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“Like That” by Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet

LIKE THAT by Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet

The first time

              I leaned over and swept the tip of my smallest fingernail down into

the whorl of your ear (bigger than your elbow), and you yelped
in violation:
                                                forgive me
it is no longer my ear
                         (little boat, little shell I carved)
and still flushing pink, even now, at the embarrassment, the satisfaction—
sliver-moon of yellow wax:
                                             tiny victory.
. . .
Lovers say,  I did not know

where my body ended and yours began.
I did not know. Even yesterday when you laughed,
reared back, your head
                        quick-snap against my upper lip, both of us
laughing and then me still laughing, eye-sting, drop of blood
at the crown of your head, panic—
                                    oh, mine. This morning
it’s holding, rough/soft, drawing my tongue
up under my lip, compelling—
                                         Like that.
And entirely unlike, of course
                                 (of course, we must say, feel we must say)—
. . .
Six months until you crawled, the only calm
lay in your being tied
                        to me—head up, bumping my ribs,
head up, eyes open, the kicks to the belly—that same position on my body
that you took inside it
                        (the acupuncture, the headstands: what I wouldn’t do in those last weeks
                        to turn you toward the earth—)
and everything slipping, permeable, all the wavering,                    you/me
the least of it:
               day/night                      inside/outside               body/body
what I wouldn’t do
                     (I could open the door)
wait: wavering Jewish atheist that I am—
                                          I made you.