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After Summer Fell Apart

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I can’t touch you.
His face always returns;
we exchange long looks
in each bad dream
& what I see, my God.
Honey, sweetheart,
I hold you against me
but nothing works.
Two boats moored,
rocking between nowhere
& nowhere.
A bone inside me whispers
maybe tonight,
but I keep thinking
about the two men wrestling nude
in Lawrence’s Women in Love.
I can’t get past
reels of breath unwinding.
He has you. Now
he doesn’t. He has you
again. Now he doesn’t.

You’re at the edge of azaleas
shaken loose by a word.
I see your rose-colored
skirt unfurl.
He has a knife
to your throat,
night birds come back
to their branches.
A hard wind raps at the door,
the new year prowling
in a black overcoat.
It’s been six months
since we made love.
Tonight I look at you
hugging the pillow,
half smiling in your sleep.
I want to shake you & ask
who. Again I touch myself,
unashamed, until
his face comes into focus.
He’s stolen something
from me & I don’t know
if it has a name or not—
like counting your ribs
with one foolish hand
& mine with the other.


Yusef Komunyakaa, “After Summer Fell Apart” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)
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After Summer Fell Apart

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