You'll never take off your blue cashmere


for me, your jade belt, or even your white


walking shoes that squeak like a nurse's.


Who are you with now, taking his pulse?


Why am I just well enough not to warrant


your care? Those snow-white stockings


will never drift on my floor like waterlilies.


I will row the boat of my sleek, narrow bed


to the center of the lake and bask in the sun,


opening my basket of strawberries, a buttery


cheese, and a musky bottle of Spanish wine,


and very gently, carefully get drunk alone.

I've had the sun's pleasures, but you are the snow


I've never known. I can only imagine the falling


crystals on my tongue, each one the moist word


of a poem in a language I barely know, fleurs,


chaleurs, douleurs ... the blizzard of your body.


I think of Ötzi, the Ice Man, 5,000 years ago


in the southern Alps, herding his sheep home.


He was prepared for anything: a quiver of cherry


and dogwood arrows, a longbow of yew, an ax


of burnished copper, mushrooms and einkorn


in a leather pouch, stripes and a cross of blue-


black soot tattooed on his ankles and back.


When the snow came, he didn't have a chance.

An unusually warm summer, tourists on a picnic,


salami and orange soda in their packs. They saw


the back of his skull jut from the thawing snow


and made a call from their cell phone, talking


excitedly in a language that meant nothing


to Ötzi: strange vowels, inhuman consonants.


I think if you gave yourself to me for just one


afternoon, sunlight lapping at the lace curtains,


I would be lost in a livid white storm within four


howling walls. My extremities would start to go


numb, sensation shrink to an azure flame, my lips


just starting to form the first words of your language.