After The Pillow Book

By Peter Pereira b. 1959 Peter Pereira
You call me to the bath, where
by evening light before bed I rub
the ointment into your maculate back.
I place my hand between the wings
of your scapulae, where you cannot
reach, cannot see—the arc of your life
revealed in its pattern of coffee-colored
spots—and hover there awhile,
remembering how we watched the lover
read the manuscript painted on the skin
of his beloved; how he pressed
the words to his chest and face—and cried out.
The arteries in my palm open, their warmth
rising between us as I massage you, neither
sexual nor umbilical,
this connection—you trusting
your back to me, and
me with no deceit.
Only salve, only unguent.
Only balm.

Peter Pereira, "After The Pillow Book " from What's Written on the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2007). www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: What's Written on the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)

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Poet Peter Pereira b. 1959

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Health & Illness, Relationships, Activities, Indoor Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Peter Pereira is a physician, a poet, and the founder of Floating Bridge Press. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and several anthologies, including Best American Poetry and To Come to Light: Perspectives on Chronic Illness in Modern Literature. He has received the “Discovery”/The Nation and Hayden Carruth prizes, and has been a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.
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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Health & Illness, Relationships, Activities, Indoor Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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