ALL THEY WANT TO DO

is touch.  Their bodies remember
sitting back to back outside the hut,
grinding maize or pounding taro.
They waited in the forest, close,
breathing together, waiting for quarry.
They remember stepping across
the ditch between their thatched houses
to gossip, to argue or embrace.

Once they spoke while hanging laundry
or mending nets or minding babies
or scything grain or boiling sap
or making shoes or spinning thread
or pounding nails or setting rivets.
Separated
by settlement or war, they yearned across oceans
or prairies  and sent their yearning
in long quivers of ink.  Their fingers
traced the letters: Oh my dear,
my heart, how long. . .Now
disembodied
they send their words,
flickering images to tornaway tribes.
Now the air carries in bits
their sketchy sentences, their loneliness,
tears that no communication
without skin or breath can mend.

 

The words “separated” and “disembodied” are supposed to be way over in the right margin, but I can’t get it formatted that way.  Sorry.

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