Often before have our fingers touched in sleep or half-sleep and enlaced,
often I’ve been comforted through a dream by that gently sensitive pressure,
but this morning, when I woke your hand lay across mine in an awkward,
unfamiliar position so that it seemed strangely external to me, removed,
an object whose precise weight, volume and form I’d never remarked:
its taut, resistant skin, dense muscle-pads, the subtle, complex structure,
with delicately elegant chords of bone aligned like columns in a temple.
Your fingers begin to move then, in brief, irregular tensions and releasings;
it felt like your hand was trying to hold some feathery, fleeting creature,
then you suddenly, fiercely, jerked it away, rose to your hands and knees,
and stayed there, palms flat on the bed, hair tangled down over your face,
until with a coarse sigh almost like a snarl you abruptly let yourself fall
and lay still, your hands drawn tightly to your chest, your head turned away,
forbidden to me, I thought, by whatever had raised you to that defiant crouch.
I waited, hoping you’d wake, turn, embrace me, but you stayed in yourself,
And I felt again how separate we all are from one another, how even our passions,
Which seem to embody unities outside of time, heal only the most benign divisions,
That for our more abiding, ancient terrors we each have to find our own valor.
You breathed more softly now, though; I took heart, touched against you,
and, as though nothing had happened, you opened your eyes, smiled at me,
and murmured—how almost startling to hear you in your real voice—