Rubbed

By Paisley Rekdal Paisley Rekdal
It’s a simple resistance
 
between the pull of springs
and struggle of joints: two coiled
silver muscles working
in the lamp against blue washers
and pivot plates, locking nut
coolly swiveling loose with age.
 
In the arm
 
it’s done with blood:
tissues plumped then promptly deflated.
 
What else am I supposed to start with?
 
Not the light bulb, to which
this whole narrative yearns, loving
the glass envelope sizzling with light,
grasshopper antennae scrubbed
with electricity until each filament’s turned to fire.
 
No, I have to start with the arm first, the mint-blue
lamp, then maybe light itself to specify
what startles me
 
about you, globe of hot fruit, Christ heart
throbbing in the open chest; curtains of robe parted
just enough to see what afterglow defines us, waits for us,
rubbing its slow music out into the wet dark—
 
Tonight, I’m counting out my seeds of waiting for you
 
through a current that is silent
and might always be,
though it thrums in every gesture:
like this white eye burning within the metal shade
I carefully adjust
over a plate of orange slices each evening.

Paisley Rekdal, "Rubbed" from The Invention of the Kaleidoscope. Copyright © 2007 by Paisley Rekdal.  Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: The Invention of the Kaleidoscope (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Paisley Rekdal

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Love, Nature, The Body, Desire

Poetic Terms Metaphor

 Paisley  Rekdal

Biography

Rekdal grew up in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of a Chinese American mother and a Norwegian father. She earned a BA from the University of Washington, an MA from the University of Toronto Centre for Medieval Studies, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of the poetry collections A Crash of Rhinos (2000), Six Girls Without Pants (2002), and The Invention of the Kaleidoscope (2007) as well . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Love, Nature, The Body, Desire

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Metaphor

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.