on the morning of my forty-second birthday
The kneading of my broad swimmer’s back by Adrean my beloved is the
first gift. I nuzzle my pillow and inhale. I sniff my glorious hands. They take
their turn at the giving. She says I am a furnace. In the shower I dig into my
bestubbled cheeks. I scrape each fingernail against the right bottom corner
of my upper left lateral incisor. My marvelous mouth pats the harvested skin
into a soft dab. It rests tasteless on my tongue until I step out. My comb
tickles my lips with a bouquet of pandemic hair. I sample the bitter end of a
Q-tip and am satisfied. The fennel toothpaste searches me and tries me and
finds me lacking in a few places. For Jael still sleeping I am a squeeze at their
ankle. For Armand I am a known engulfment from behind. For Azel I am a
quip and a laugh on his chest. For loafed and purring Angel I am a massive
swoon. For hungry Nib I am two legs to rub against back and forth and to
loop around with the most eloquently insistent tail in the animal kingdom.
“Self Portrait” from How to Communicate by John Lee Clark. Copyright © 2022 by John Lee Clark. Used by permission of Union Literary.