The people have filled the city’s open spaces,
they stand shoulder to shoulder, expecting everything.
The platform above the Square is empty.
A buzz of unease caresses the bare heads,
their coronas of hair thinning into the breeze;
see the rolled-up newspapers, the scarves that twitch.
The hum mounts to a whisper, the whisper
delivers its secret, the secret
is betrayed, spreads like an epidemic;
outside the city they are building a pyramid of books.
It’s worst when he lugs me to his bed at night:
The soft clammy flesh, the sweaty fumbling,
Those flabby encroachments. Yet the eyes haunt me.
‘Oh, hold me, hold me!’ he whimpers, pathetically,
Though he knows my paralysis – all I can do
Is gape unblinking at the stony ceiling.
Afterwards he’ll always caress me lovingly,
Polish my thigh with a garland of tissues,
Then dwindle to a snore. I slip the blankets
And stand in the rain. Stand there imagining skin.
Original poems from Infinite City (Five Islands Press, 1999)