Archery

It’s like touching without touching,
except when there is, also, touching.

We pull the bowstrings back
and parallel together,
aiming a handsbreadth higher
than we believe we intend,
and let the glove move where we draw the wire,

scared that the machinery
will misinterpret us,
that we may not stop trembling, that we may lose
our belief in ourselves
before anything is released, or shared, or sent.

And yet we trust the notch to know
the whereabouts of the bow,
and trust the tail or fletching
of each salvo to astonish
the target as soon as it gets there, to make its point
within its nest of Os and Os and Os.

Our belts and buckles try to keep the secrets
we have begun to decide
that, later, we want to expose.

There is the rest of our group, and there is the river,
and that is called the kisser, the stabilizer
on your shoulder. Do what I do. You have time.
Put your hand over my hand. That feels nice.

No longer too young
to participate in this activity, we have become
the elevated counselors
of the air, which will not take
anything but our most forceful advice.

More Poems by Stephanie Burt