I’m Nobody—
 –Emily Dickinson


On Not Touching


Who are you?

Why are you

here? Why now?

What lies behind

that purple mask?

And what about

your other clothes?

Are you flirting

with color? Is

your skin furry

or shaved?

Is it sable

or gold,


or cream?


Are you alone?

Or does your

lover hold you

safe against


you cannot


On Not Being Touched


I envy the river rocks

for the water curling over

their backs, the ferns

whose fronds interlace

and whisper when

the south wind ripples

the wood’s edge;

the wren alighting

firmly on the perch

of the fanciful birdhouse on stilts

that our neighbor built, surrounding it

with ropes of bittersweet vines,

and the wren’s feet

gripping the perch.

I envy the ants that crawl

across the peony buds

so they can open

to the sun,

and the peony petals—

how closely, softly packed

they are, how they share

and compound fragrance.