If I Could Have Your Attention

By Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Featured Art: Sunrise or Sunset (study for book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom) by Abbott Handerson Thayer

-To S. S.

              and if I could make of my hands a hammock
for the sinuous long-S slope of your spine
              if I could flocculate moonlight into a salve
to rub away our fears as fingers smooth a bedsheet’s creases         
              if I could scan the abjad calligraphy of your curls
and wake with long strands coiled lamia-like under my tongue
              if we could lie enmeshed under night’s aspect
our spooned bodies a crescent luna under the folds
                if I could rise first to cook you breakfast
and convince you basil pesto is morning fare
if I could recite to you all sixty-three octaves
of Keats’s Isabella with pungent pesto breath
                if we could exhume for each other our buried poems
to pry vital marrow from those discarded bones
and if we could distill the essential incanti
like sweet incense extracted from fetid agarwood
if I could breathe my favorite words to you:
“gloaming,” “Ewigkeit,” “azimuth,” “garrigues,” “laverock”
if I could settle into entire stillness
while you whisper your own treasured motes into my ear
and if I could only compose the words
that could incite in you half what yours have in me
I could be with you, or else write no more

Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University in Miami, where he serves as a reader and copy-editor for Gulf Stream. His fiction and poetry appears in or is forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, Literary Orphans, Lunch Ticket, Cha, Off the Coast, and elsewhere

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