If You’re Single and Touch-Hungry and Hear a Knock at the Door

By Erin Redfern

Featured Art: Amaranthine II by Mary Kate McElroy

Incredible to me now, how long I went without it.
Palm, nape, arch. Shoulder blade, collarbone, top of knee.
Weeks. Months. Not one for manicures, too old for club scenes.

Noting the daily ways we stop just shy of it:
coins dropped into a waiting palm, elbows cased in thick wool
in crowds, on trains the shared heat of covered thighs.

I moved my wrist along the cheap satin slide
of drug store scarves, rubbed the budding tips of weeds,
grabbed brass doorknobs still warm from the hand before.

To the skin-starved, the world’s a frisson of substitutes.
If you know this, and you hear a knock, answer.
I won’t stay long; you can leave the tv on. I’ll use

a fine-tooth comb or soft-bristle brush, my fingers
through your hair. Let me do this. Let me
make amends to my old loneliness. Your scalp’s sudden aria

flooding the studio apartment, the high-rise, the whole city sky
sighed with airliners, then farther out, the dark plains
with their small, hidden lives that pause to listen

and your roaming selves, returning now to the paddock
of your skin. You will dream tonight, and wake up human.


Erin Redfern’s work has recently appeared in Rattle, The Hopkins Review, New World Writing, and The Massachusetts Review. She earned her PhD at Northwestern University, where she was a Fellow at the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence. She has served as poetry judge for the San Francisco Unified School District’s Arts Festival and a reader for Poetry Center San Jose’s Caesura and DMQ Review. She teaches poetry classes and workshops online. www.erinredfern.net.

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