Put your hands on my bare hips,
ship sunk on a pretty benign reef
unremembered centuries back
concealing one locked chest in the debris.
Use your fingers to detect the muscle, skin, and bone,
trusting in material insolidity
for something unseen in the wreckage,
something that you need without a name.
Day or night, warm or cold,
hold on to the cradle,
ignore the fishes flashing all around,
moor yourself against the sirens.
Hold my skin and know despite its feel
the coral can be shaved, the barnacles ignored –
know the essence of me underneath the weathered skin
the me that still exists inside the wreckage
even in the crust and cold and broken timbers –
find me, warm me,
open up the chest and see in me what’s left,
weighted underneath the surface for too long.
Stan Galloway teaches English at Bridgewater College in Virginia. He was nominated Best of the Net in 2011. His chapbook Abraham is forthcoming in 2012. He has had more than 80 poems published.