You take a rock, your hand is hard.
You raise your eyes, and there's a pair
of small beloveds, caught in pails.
The monocle and eyepatch correspond.
You take a glove, your hand is soft.
The ocean floor was done
in lizardskin. Around a log or snag
the surface currents run
like lumber about a knot. A boat
is bent to sea—we favor the medium
we're in, our shape's
around us. It takes time.
At night, the bed alive, what
teller of truth could tell
the two apart? Lover, beloved,
hope is command. Your hand
is given, when you take a hand.
Heather McHugh, “Constructive” from Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993. Copyright © 1994 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993
(Wesleyan University Press, 1994)