Tomorrow he would leave again
and I thought why not remove
his clothes once more, fold his shirt
in the familiar ceremony of undress.
I tugged a button from its hole
as if opening had always been
this easy. I hurried my fingers
to his shoulder blades where I once
imagined a thread could unravel
the tight symbols tied inside of him.
We were following the line of dropping
clothes when he pulled away to touch
the cover draped across the bed,
rows of fabric I had pieced together,
small imperfect stars. I believed
in the seam our bodies made,
but when in the morning he put on
his uniform, it was what I’d sewn
myself that held, miraculous,
our warmth—his face now a pattern
indecipherable if viewed up close.
And even at a distance, I couldn’t
pick out more than his blurring
shape, a vague field of color,
those strips of ribbon at his chest.
A Catalogue of the Contents of His Nightstand
One orphaned oak leaf from his uniform.
Loose change. A pair of collar stays. A tube
of mentholated chapstick going warm.
An accordion of ancient Trojans, lube
that’s meant to tingle when it touches skin.
The leather cuff he bought in Santa Fe.
A sample of cologne that smells like gin,
cigars, and prohibition, the satin sway
of bodies in a sweating room. A card
his mother sent—she wonders when he’ll write
again. A tin of peppermints now hard
and powdery as chalk. A tiny light
he shone on shadows as we lay in bed
(bright spheres) until the battery went dead.
My Husband Calls Me Shipmate
and file of
the way under-
way he names
the valve open
be shut, who
forgot to hit
that the drill
the same each
time, each time
routine of click
flag to signal
or something in
negative to mean no,
which is to say
of the engine
room has no
to let the user
know that this
is not the place
for Private Fubar
if you please
—says roger that
although there is
no radio, no
Roger in the room—
says will comply
although he won’t
although no mating
now, this bed
not ever made
into a ship.