Ladder of bone rungs a love poem
I could barely get a finger hold slender chest I fell against impossible height to him wraith of a man corpse I insisted on I had no foothold how his concave met me oh barely-there man my body greater than A girl wants linear and light-filled the length of tracks that tightens at the horizon Even his arms were see-through his thighs were rigging for what would never sail How hungry for kindness he was sapling my prowling orchard his long fingers hovered but did not hold His burnt thumbs stubs I pocketed I traced his skeleton collapsed from hanging joints and hinges splayed we rearranged he my half-heart I his already-sung beautiful ridged man and the pandemic so far off it might be cloud over the street lamp we stood under those nights before autumn’s long windows before book spines cracked beneath us before ashes wormed and hung as the shutters of his chest closed as he turned toward what would kill him and still I clung
Barbara Rockman is the author of Sting and Nest (Sunstone Press, 2011), winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Poetry Book Award and the National Press Women Book Prize; and Into Moss and Singing (forthcoming from University of New Mexico Press) .Her poems appear in Calyx, Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, Louisville Review, Nimrod and bosque. Rockman lives and teaches writing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is Workshop Coordinator for the Wingspan Poetry Project, which brings poetry to victims of domestic violence.
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This poem first appeared in Askew.