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Poetry

The river has tasted the salt of your skin, has lapped
at your calves with its current. The river has swallowed

the press of your steps. There is no record of your crossing.
The river is between you and everything you call your life.

So you step into a stranger’s arms. Your shoulder fits
theirs like a bone in its socket. Your jaw notches theirs.

All around you, a profusion of oleanders beams
back the moonlight, offering a carpet of fallen petals.

In your arms, all the promises you’ve yet to keep, all
you’ve done that shames you. But what is wrestling

if not an embrace? It’s too dark to know
you have the same face and only like this, cheek to cheek,

each looking over the other’s shoulder, can you see
the world whole. Close, at first, as a slow dance,

you spin and spin, your tracks a tight coin; matched,
you step out, making a spear tip of your bodies; matched,

you step further, levered like rafters, needing the other
to stay aloft—your tracks trace widening circles, ringing

out through the fallen blossoms. Names are required
only when not alone. This stranger

does not give you a new name, just dippers up
the true one you tender in your chest. The day is breaking

the night’s hold. The far bank is calling.
On one side, you. On the other, your life. Join them.

 

 


Jessica Jacobs is the author of two award-winning books of poetry and the founder of Yetzirah, a new literary community for Jewish poets. In 2024, Four Way Books will publish unalone, her collection of poems in conversation with the book of Genesis.

 

 

 

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