Poetry: Lee Stern


Perhaps When I Touched You

Perhaps when I touched you, it was like you were shining.
And when you touched me,
it was like the alphabet was something we never knew.
Perhaps when we closed the doors,
the windows retreated to a place
where the earth was still learning how to manufacture my whistle.
And where the earth’s relatives made progress by the side of their horse.
And perhaps when I touched the dress you were wearing,
an ancient man stood aside and asked me
to tell him the story of his life.
But to do it quietly.
And to embellish it without meaning with the surface of the words
that broke open the involuntary cask that left feathers forsaken
for the birds that flew through my heart.

Don’t Leave the Apples Behind

Do whatever you want but don’t leave the apples behind.
You can wrap them in some foil, I suppose.
Although I find it’s just as easy to put them in paper.
And bring the large apples with the small ones, too.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they won’t taste as good.
And tell everyone you meet in the new place
that you’ve brought the apples with you
out of consideration for what they may have missed.
At the same time, however,
don’t tell them that you had to polish the apples with your shirtsleeves.
Or that you had to clip the stems together
in a place of worship that made brackets for you
that couldn’t be retrieved until dawn.

I Will Tell You

I will tell you if there is an afternoon
that doesn’t know the lengths to which I have gone to exist.
Or the number of hours I tried to fasten
to my sleeve when I didn’t feel like awakening.
I will tell you if there is a large medallion
I can sit on for the rest of the evening.
Or a large cubicle
into which I can place the straps you removed from my chin.
And if I’m pouring your honey into my cup at the same time as I’m doing this,
please, don’t hold that against me.
I wanted something sugary that would remind me of something.
And that would tell the last inning hostess pulling the morning out of my purse
that the winter restored what the summer removed from my eyes.

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