After The Pillow Book

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