To Your Pain and My Declining Ability to See
She presented you with her hair scrunchie
a week ago to wear on your wrist
in public, at school, when you’re with the guys
at the pool, or lingering in the parking lot
just before soccer practice. It changed
your gait, this bluish-gray, silky iridescence,
billowy on your slim wrist—an awkward
corsage, a colour full of morning fog
and promise. My students
tell me this is a thing now.
Like a ring, they keep saying. But today
you are sprawled on your bed,
diagonal, away from us. I think of Thiebaud’s
Supine Woman. She’s flat on her back
on white, lots of white. Tired of being her.
Close up, the lines are thick, so straight-ish,
she can’t move a tick—maybe she doesn’t want
to move—her eyes held straight up—the lines
thinner around her thighs, her shape, her white dress,
barely visible, separate from all the space,
all the tenable white. But we know
that these lines, any lines, tell us nothing
but that they are there. Yes, you’re her opposite,
in form, too, your head stuffed down deep
into the bed, on top of the blanket your mom laid
there to warm you this past fall—the same
scrunchie color now not on your wrist,
not anywhere I can see. When you turn
over, your tears are resting
in the corner of your eyes, thick
and obvious— like his paint, like those lines--
but only to the one who chooses to stand
close enough to begin to see, especially
to the one who chooses to attend
to the lines, on this bed,
usually so thin.
Jacob Stratman’s first collection of poems, What I Have I Offer With Two Hands, was released in 2019 through the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books). He teaches in the English department at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
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