Holding (Paul Hetherington)


He held her body lightly,

shirted as it was,

falling backwards as it was,

away from him.

He read in her arched back

the prow-lines of figureheads

on ships that crossed ancient archipelagos

and churned unknown oceans with oars,

fighting the rips.

He read in her thrown-back face

a thousand men spurned

by women who wished to go their own way

and divined in the turn of her arm

where the elbow bent,

where a soft down furred the tender light,

a strangeness.

In holding her

time had no dimension

beyond this falling-back of her voice

and the running steps of her rib cage,

beyond her shadow,

that seemed to possess his light

and the convex meniscus

of her resilient body.

He was alien to himself.

He was clotted and cauled.