An Arrangement

You mornings in the white chair, bare legs draped
over chair arm, the other pillowing your back,
robe bunched up, thigh exposed, foot inching up
and down the arching instep of the other,
touching you as maybe you imagine
somebody (who? I wonder) would, or did
(how long ago, just how long has it been?)
in the right place, with the precise finesse
of pressure shifting at the pace you needed
to lift you from yourself the way heat teases
smoke signals from the cup between your hands
too far away faint tangled up to read.

Honey (can I call you Honey?), don’t get me wrong—
this thing we don’t want to be seen as doing
might be just what it is we do, have done,
can’t help but keep on doing no matter what:
like pieces from two puzzles shattered long
ago, not meant to fit, yet somehow do
by happenstance, enough at least to turn
the shattering into a crazy glue
that holds us safe inside where you now get
to feel desired in the way that makes me feel
deserted in the very way I want.

So what if these broken pieces we’ve become
don’t quite resolve into a single picture
anyone else but us would recognize
as love or like love, we at least can tell
ourselves, if not each other, that we’ve found
a not unintimate puzzling give and take
(not felt in other company) in which
you draw one foot so slowly up
and down the other I can almost think
you think I’m watching, or someone like me is.

Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro has published many poetry collections (including Reel to Reel, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Night of the Republic, finalist for both the National Book Award and the International Griffin Prize), 4 books of prose, including The Last Happy Occasion, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, LA Times Book Prize, an award in literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, he is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His newest book is Against Translation.
Alan Shapiro

Author: Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro has published many poetry collections (including Reel to Reel, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Night of the Republic, finalist for both the National Book Award and the International Griffin Prize), 4 books of prose, including The Last Happy Occasion, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, LA Times Book Prize, an award in literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, he is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His newest book is Against Translation.