The Secret That We Always Are To Others

Sometimes, when I have morning breath,
I cover my mouth with the sheet like a niqab.
And then the scent of your underarms when you
pull me close to your chest and fold me in –
it is a mystery for which I have no word.

These are whiffs of time elapsed, and thus
of death – mysteries of the body. When I
have no words, oddly I start to make too many.
I thrust them into the column of this poem,
each line ending in the same place each time,

the stern border forming, like glass surrounding
pickles in a jar, each thing separate, but steeped
in the same brisk brine. As we are. When we kiss,
our outside coverings pressing together, our souls,
striving to burst through faces, press closer still.

It does not work. Still, we try. This is why our teeth
clack – why, even as I read the length of your column,
its meaning escapes me, why your voice becomes
another voice in that other place. When I come to,
the sun has moved, its shadows subtly shifted, too.

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