Study by Window Light

by Jed Myers

I won’t say beauty, so you won’t think
I mean the last of your youth. I don’t
need to see some peachy face beaming
original trust, peepers blinking
up at a cloud-puff creature parade.

I don’t much like that dusky tarnish
brushed on over eyes to emphasize
innocence with a bruised look. If ever
I wished to rescue, harbor, or transport
a poor pseudo-you, I don’t now.

I do need those lines years facing
the light have drawn from your eyes’
corners. I need the blue veins’ tint
on your temples’ plains, and to settle
my shreds in the gullies east and west
of your brave complicated lips.

There’s respite in the long creases
time and mothering’s given your breasts.
Here’s a land where the air is alive
with listening. Your traveled hand rests
on this wanderer’s wind-burned hide.

Here’s a sky whose cumuli come down
around me like knowing limbs, a voice
like yours in the vapor, an understanding
closer than speech. I won’t say beauty—

unless we can reclaim the contraband
held in that name, steal it from the gloss
cases of the magazine pages,
set the actual free where the word’s been
lashed with millions of miles of eyeliner

down to the skin-and-bone runway flash
behind the screens—beauty as broken
code, the harnessing of so much human
need to be seen. I won’t say beauty—
till we’ve brought it home to our kitchen

stove, table, our weeks’ old rose
petals like little red lifeboats left
adrift near the salt, in evidence gravity’s
excellent work on your bent shoulders
and my paunch, this raggedy nurture
we manage, leaning together

into our undoing. This dim winter
day, cold by the window, you huddle
wrapped in the woolen throw. The light
infuses frayed strands of your hair,

matching the soft sheen of the naked
alder out there. Your cheek’s a mottled
field of purples and earths, its furrows
a text to erode unread. I won’t say
beauty, but touch what’ll go unsaid.

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