Poems of the Week – Kim Addonizio

27 Feb

THREE POEMS BY KIM ADDONIZIO

 

31-Year-Old-Lover

When he takes off his clothes
I think of a stick of butter being unwrapped,
the milky, lubricious smoothness of it
when it’s taken from the fridge still hard
the way his body is hard, the high
tight pectorals, the new dimes of the nipples pressed
into the chest, the fanning of the muscles underneath.
I look at his arms, shaped as though a knife
has slid along the curves to carve them out,
deltoids, biceps, triceps, I almost can’t believe
that he is human—latissimus dorsi, hip flexors
gluteals, gastrocnemius—he is so perfectly made.
He stands naked in my bedroom and nothing
has harmed him yet, though he is going
to be harmed. He is going to have a gut one day,
and wiry gray hair where the soft dark filaments
flow out of him, the cream of his skin is going
to loosen and separate slowly, over a low steady flame
and he has no idea, as I had no idea,
and I am not going to speak of this to him ever,
I am going to let him stretch out on my bed
so I can take the heavy richness of him in
and in, I am going to have it back the way I can.

 

On Knocking Over My Glass While Reading Sharon Olds

The milk spread,
a translucent stain
covering the word milk,

snaking down toward come
and womb and penis, toward gashes
and swiveled, towards the graceful

grey flower and the infelicitous
errless digit, so that suddenly
the page seemed to be weeping,

the way a statue of the Virgin
in some poor but devout parish
might begin to weep, ichor streaming

from the eyes, the open palms,
so that when the girl keeling
in the rain of the convent yard

touches the mottled white
folds of the stone robe
her lupus disappears. And I felt

as that girl must have felt,
that the Holy Mother herself
had come to reveal

the true nature of the real,
goddess in the statue,
bread in each word’s

black flowering, and I rose
and went to the kitchen—
sacristy of the cupboards,

tabernacle of the fridge—
to refill my glass
with her wild and holy blood.

 

Fuck

There are people who will tell you
that using the word fuck in a poem
indicates a serious lapse
of taste, or imagination,

or both. It’s vulgar,
indecorous, an obscenity
that crashes down like an anvil
falling through a skylight

to land on a restaurant table,
on the white linen, the cut-glass vase of lilacs.
But if you were sitting
over coffee when the metal

hit your saucer like a missile,
wouldn’t that be the first thing
you’d say? Wouldn’t you leap back
shouting, or at least thinking it,

over and over, bell-note riotously clanging
in the church of your brain
while the solicitous waiter
led you away, wouldn’t you prop

your shaking elbows on the bar
and order your first drink in months,
telling yourself you were lucky
to be alive? And if you wouldn’t

say anything but Mercy or Oh my
or Land sakes, well then
I don’t want to know you anyway
and I don’t give a fuck what you think

of my poem. The world is divided
into those whose opinions matter
and those who will never have
a clue, and if you knew

which one you were I could talk
to you, and tell you that sometimes
there’s only one word that means
what you need it to mean, the way

there’s only one person
when you first fall in love,
or one infant’s cry that calls forth
the burning milk, one name

that you pray to when prayer
is what’s left to you. I’m saying
in the beginning was the word
and it was good, it meant one human

entering another and it’s still
what I love, the word made
flesh. Fuck me, I say to the one
whose lovely body I want close,

and as we fuck I know it’s holy,
a psalm, a hymn, a hammer
ringing down on an anvil,
forging a whole new world.

 

* all poems from What Is This Thing Called Love, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005.

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