Touch Me (With Rubber Gloves)
through a rubber-slick partition,
with hands that smell of the operating room floor.
Could we perform surgery on your duvet?
Have the hospital sheets been washed this week?
Take your fingers,
alcohol-dampened and sanguine red,
and hover, cradle, the ghost of my cheeks.
There’s a fault line of earth beneath your fingernails. Your palms reek of metal rust. I know they’ve held more than just me today.
mouth puffed with spearmint fumes,
lungs clenched on shallow exhales.
I’ve made a list of reasons not to love you and they all start with their scientific
name. There’s a colony of life that lives on your tongue that doesn’t care for me
the way you do. You promise you’ll never hurt me, but what should I believe when
you touch your smile with the same fingers that opened the door?
Lead me to bed—
baring nothing but teeth—
and leave me to rot at the foot.
I stand before you: the trembling effigy of The Lover, brushed only by the
window’s breath, caressed only by the evening sun as the outline of my shadow
drapes itself across your lap. All I can offer is an exhibit at arm’s length, free of
charge, to look, but not to touch.
(please don’t leave)
Please don’t touch.
You say my name
like patience worn sheer,
like hands rubbed raw from ritual
and the rift between us yawns.
The precipice crumbles. You extend, forward,
trembling with exertion, light
haloing the crest of your head.
Trust me, you beg. And in another
life, another mind, I could fall.
But here, to close the gap,
I’d have to take your hand.