Poetry June 2009

Embrace

The great flowery dress of my seventh-grade teacher,
cotton or rayon, pillowcase for her vast
mothering bosom, scented with the perfume
of the unmarried, stretched over hips
that made arms of the lap I sat on—
you were the handkerchief of my remorse
just once, you with your bright roses and tulips,
spidery paths of vines and fluted leaves,
all the smothering penance that nearly consoled me,
until above my sobs I heard hers,
and in her arms the crushing force
or the grateful fury of our unburdening
made that embrace a thing apart:
O heartsick woman! O bewildered boy!

Michael Collier’s most recent collection is Dark Wild Realm (2006). He teaches at the University of Maryland and directs the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
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