“What Difference Could We Make” by Kay Putney Gantt

Kay Putney Gantt


Sometimes when we lie in bed
you turn your back asking for a scratch.
With my left hand I hold my book
and with the other I stroke
up and down along your spine–
a simple act–connecting.
Something surges up my arm
I want to remember–the warm skin
against the unread lifeline in my palm.
In the ease of this communion
I commission my fingertips to store up
the good of you for days of famine
when your fragile heartbeat may be
scattered on the land. To find you then
I’d dig my fingers into the unmown grass,
the plot of earth behind your music room,
stroke the ribbed tree where you hung
the squirrel feeder. I’d dip my hand
into the lake and hold it there. I want
to hold off death, yours and mine,
as long as I can reach across the bed
to scratch your back and wake up later
to the rhythm of your breathing.
What could death want with us
who take our pleasure from so light a touch.

from Rattle #16, Winter 2001

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