In that billowing silence.
A silence to loathe and love,
like the first gasp of submersion at the pool.

In that silence I examined the paintings
on your wall and thin splits between the floor boards,
the leavings caught in them – crumbs and dust
and once a tiny blue bead. In the roaring
silence while I scrambled away from my edges,
I came to know well the hem of your skirts
and the lay of your hands on your lap. Still.

Each Tuesday I sat in the corner of your couch,
ringed by a wreath of damp tissue.
You rocked in your chair.

Sometimes I thought
you were a beatific witch
just waiting with your gentle prods
to send me back into my seas,
to push me under, over and over,
sometimes I thought you invented the pearl
I sought – a mean joke on me.

I thought you knew what I was going to say next,
knew my interior as if it were written in a code
for which you held the key.
Sometimes I liked this, then I didn’t.

How still our bodies were! While I dangled
over the fire at the bottom of my darkest pits,
writhed in the salt of my ordinary wounds.
How quiet and desperate that year of weekly hours.
How seasons of light dwindled
and blossomed across the planks of your floor,
how my singular and universal dreads met
and wrestled under your watch.

How I wanted to crawl into your lap
and have you stroke my hair
and say there, there,
and how, in a way,
never touching me,
you did.

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