Raw knuckles, pocket crescent:
envelope sky, blank paper moon.
The night is white, the moon, white,
milky as gristle against bone.
If I had a collar, I'd turn it up
against my neck, against the chill
mist falling. I shove my hands
into the rough denim mouths
already full with hip bones.
Shrink my neck, perfect my hunch,
like yours, dead man.
I dreamed you under my hands
descending a stair, your back to my chest
slipping over and under the fluid tread
of the not real. How heavy you were;
I knew then you were dead. Simple,
dream-logic; I distrust its Let go.
In November I held you, alive, just shy
of fifty, grey man. You slipped from my grip,
the cold an aura around you. Black rain coat,
shabby, familiar. Low slung pants. Paradoxical fashion:
the belly above, slim hips below. Familiar in passing.
Once, we danced a slow drunken slide; it was late
enough to forget whatever rules were to guide us.
Then you were hard against my thigh, the tender place
between bone and bone. The song ended:
we slid apart into different places in the dark.
If I could inhabit you, I would know how your wrist bones
slipped past cuffs. Why you never wore gloves.
The place where youth joins the aging paunch;
the story of the tumor in your groin, the scar tissue
that kept you out of Viet Nam. Trees speeding past
as you left the exam. How alive you felt. How vivid they were.
If I could inhabit you, woeful man, squandering man,
I would know the press of raw knuckled flesh
into pockets familiar, warm. I could feel you gone.
Crystal Bacon is an Associate Professor of Communications at Gloucester County College in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The Ontario Review, The Tampa Review and the Massachusetts Review.