Once lying in bed beside a lover, I wished
for removable arms, so I could press myself
against him and give those overworked
oar locks a rest. The next day, I’d slip them
back in place to row us down the river
into town, past cliffs and overhanging willows.
Now my shoulders ache in the morning;
I sleep on my back with foot to knee
in an arabesque like a flamingo, and swim
with my right arm tucked at my side,
a crippled seal, surprised to find I still
glide smoothly across the pool.
My snowbird lover’s due. I’ll miss
our spoonings, curled like puppies in the womb,
but we’ll make do, I think, as I bid goodbye
to that careless ease of youth when my movements
were effortless as flying, and say hello to slowness,
asking for help, allowing help, another kind
of ease, still touched, still loved.
No Leda I
and he no Zeus,
but a boy
who pressed a knife—
against my throat,
pushed me down
on the lobby floor.
One hand hiding his face,
he pulled aside my coat,
and thrust against me,
but my legs,
trapped in tight panties
would not open.
we both stood up.
I smoothed my green striped
skirt over my thighs.
You sure know how to dress, he said.
In some vague gesture
as if to wind back the tape,
I held out my wallet.
He grabbed it and ran.
Upstairs, I paced the parquet floors,
his terrified dark eyes,
the curve of his cheek
imprinted on my brain.
What became of him,
that desperate boy?
As for me,
I still submit
don’t dare to shout
or even whisper, No.
On the Slopes of Mt. Etna
We come upon stands of birch
kin to the silver tree
you harvest to make baskets in Minnesota.
Here they grow together,
trunks in a circle, stretching outward
like circles of dancers, white bark
scored with eyes,
their notches wrinkled as old elbows.
You kiss me and say, They make me
want to make love to you.
I step inside a hollow of birches,
lean against a trunk to write a poem.
Clouds cover the sun. I pull on a sweater
and you circle snapping pictures
of me in my outdoor studio.
In the distance, in straw hat
and yellow shirt, you blend in
with your brothers, an old tree,
still sturdy, but bent, your arms
like thin branches growing from the trunk.
We could live here among the birches.
I love your love of them,
how you know the mystery of trees.
They are kings here
and we their subjects.
Jaqueline Newlove has built a yurt in the desert, worked as a bilingual speech pathologist and special education teacher, and earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Her work has been published in Red Rock Review, Bellowing Ark, Sandscript and Plainsongs. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.