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Rose

long after you are a breath of smoke
I remember snatches of you:

we sit at your kitchen table
you smooth your skirt across your thigh
and rain comes down outside the window
and you tell me you think
you will go back to your husband soon
because the separation is heavy
on your youngest daughter
but you reach out your fingertips
to rub them against my wrist
tell me today is not soon

but before that you sit in sunshine
beside the Tennessee river
as little boats glide the water
beneath the gray O’Neal Bridge
you hold yellow flowers
even though the morning is cold
and I hold your black braided hair
you tell me he never liked little boats
or cold river mornings
or yellow flowers or your hair
and you tell me you want me
for whatever kind of ever forever is

but before that you come
to my apartment at midnight
you sit at my feet and unclothe yourself
you teach me the names of your body
he told you was too dirty to love:
your soft pressures of your gentle fingertips
and your small sharpness of your fingernails
your teeth on my thumb in your mouth
you hold my wrist with both hands
you unheavy all your quaking reveries
and tell me with a sob in your throat
that you just needed my hands tonight
to touch you the way he won’t
you tell me you want to get him out of you
and you want to put me inside

long after you are a breath of smoke
I wake in the middle of the night
with your name a drum thump in my head
the bones in my wrist ache
if you came out of nowhere today
and told me to hold your breath
I think I would cup my hands and wait

— Adam Kamerer


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