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.