after Donald Justice’s “There Is a Gold Light in Certain Old Paintings”
Every ball I’ve given, princess that I am,
has been of thread. To every man my father thought
a threat—a blade of coal to black the family name
or to bloody my dress, muddy my thought.
True, the words of men have been as soft as hands
as I pressed my modest gift into their hands.
Men are good at leaving things behind.
At garlanding the land they’ve taken, studding the earth
with detritus: glass, paper, nautili, twine.
But who might read his own signs in the earth
and kiss the affable face of gravity
with smiles, instead of with gravity?
Here is forgiveness, or a certain skew of light
fading my image. They all leave richer, redder
with health, gentler with lovers. Let
another offer wine redder
than I remembered.
An opulent mouth I’ve touched, or dreamt of, or remembered.
• • •
TO READ MORE POETRY, PICK UP A COPY OF VOL 56 No. 2
STEPHANIE YUE DUHEM is a poet and educator, completing her MFA at UT Austin. A 2020 Best of the Net nominee and a 2021 Pushcart nominee, she has published in a variety of journals.