Curtis Bauer

While I sleep my wife writes words
          on my back.
She wants me to feel what she thinks,
          what's inside her chest.
When I wake the letter Q boils between
          my shoulder blades
as if it were branded or etched.
          I think she traced C
but there's longing in her and she hates
          the word covet.
Her delicate hands can’t hold desire.
          She is sitting on top of me
naked, though her hair clothes her.
          The bed isn't large
enough for this love tracing from her
          fingers. The room
diminishes when she opens her eyes.



On a walk I saw two children playing a word game: the boy traced each letter of a word with his index finger on the girl’s back; her eyes were closed, she was smiling, pronouncing each letter he wrote, laughing, then frowning. Either the boy couldn’t spell or the girl couldn’t understand his fingers. The game didn’t last long, but I carried it with me for the rest of my walk, until it found its way into something like this poem.