It cinches around my joints and contracts
so forcefully that I feel a danger that
my bones might snap if he coughs,
if he shudders, if he asks for it
any rougher. We are both using
our indoor voices this afternoon
although mine is akin to a sharp bark
when at last he attains mastery.
He says “Face the mirror”
and I see that I am completely
possessed, a woman with
a survivor’s asymmetry, a blur
for a jawline, too much
avoir du poids for a middle,
my long hair the only camouflage
for all the souvenirs of combats
he knows nothing about.
His timing has made me sad
again, and I ask, inwardly,
that he not scatter chips of
the still-beating muscle
that burns steadily
and in emerald pulses
for him alone, not like the seed pearls
of my now-trashed necklace.
What was the word
he used to describe them?
It took a lifetime to gather them up
from the four corners
after the last go-round, and then the
endless hours of restringing with faith
the only thread pulling all of it back
into place. Again, he does not know
that the repairs are so fresh, that
the tugs and tears of a lifetime
have forged bands from the ruptured fibers,
concentric rings like the measurable markers
of time inside a tree, and that these also cinch
and squeeze out my breath in moments
of panic, astonishment, even passion,
not to mention wonder.
He, too, is scattered, and the nacre
soon cools on my chest, my throat.
Today, he has surprised me, as he always does,
with the secret name he has chosen for me.
I did not anticipate this, same as when he called me
The Sun when I felt myself to be but a satellite.
Before he leaves, he contains me in
the musculature of his arms, his knee draped
over my hip, and he names me in a way
I have not been named before.
“My Love,” he says to me quietly. “My Love.”