• I remember sex before my husband
  • as a vague, vagrant landscape
  • of taller, darker men, all thick hair
  • and hands, the full lips of the rich past.
  • And sometimes, when I’m taking a sidewalk
  • full tilt, my heels chipping
  • the glittering cement, I feel their eyes,
  • their sweet lost fingers
  • tugging at my clothes — the one
  • who fell behind just to watch me walk,
  • to see me as a stranger might,
  • then caught up to catch
  • a handful of my hair, turn me around,
  • pull me back into his body’s deep folds.
  • They all come back, tenacious
  • as angels, to lean against me
  • at the movies, the beach — a shoulder
  • or a thigh pressed to mine, lashes
  • black and matted, and always
  • naked, clean and pure as souls slipped
  • glistening from the body’s warm wick,
  • like my husband’s fingers when he dips
  • into me, then lifts them
  • to his face, heavy with glaze, the leaves
  • crowded against our window, shivering.

Dorianne Laux, an American poet, is Poet in Residence at North Carolina State University and also teaches for the Pacific University Low Residency MFA Program in Oregon. She is married to the poet Joe Millar. “Kaleidoscope” is from Laux’s collection What We Carry, published by BOA editions in 1994, and is reprinted by permission.

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