I think of your hands all those years ago
Learning to maneuver a pencil, or struggling
To fasten a coat. The hands you’d sit on in class,
The nails you chewed absently. The clumsy authority
With which they’d sail to the air when they knew
You knew the answer. I think of them lying empty
At night, of the fingers wrangling something
From your nose, or buried in the cave of your ear.
All the things they did cautiously, pointedly,
Obedient to the suddenest whim. Their shames.
How they failed. What they won’t forget year after year.
Or now. Resting on the wheel or the edge of your knee.
I am trying to decide what they feel when they wake up
And discover my body is near. Before touch.
Pushing off the ledge of the easy quiet dancing between us.
“Song” from Life on Mars. Copyright © 2011 by Tracy K. Smith. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.
This poem was originally read in the Poetry Unbound episode “A Poem for the Space Between Us.”