29 June 2008 | Vol. 8, No. 2
You loved a woman once
She told you of childhood summers, mayflies trembling
beside the bridge of her nose, hunting frogs. Skinning them
on a brick, the house smelling like their small, fried legs.
All she wanted was for you to carry her home in a canoe
with paddles, life vests, a flare. You promised
to teach her how to swim when she was in your arms.
Your own body, broken into so many times, became a clear lake
for her to bathe in. Remember pulling the one tiny, suckering
leech from below her neck, the pale collarbone Braille it left.
You said the boat was her shoulder in your mouth, even when
you couldn't bear her epaulets of freckles, even when nothing
but a body would do and there was no body but her own.
Below her—lily pads, dragonflies, the worms
dug up last summer and thrown from the dock to see fish
rise in a boil—now all snapped raw in the frozen pond. And speaker,
coded "you"—what about the light straining through her dampened
hair, will you catch it in your jaws? There's the smell of paper
on her skin and you pressing her body like a flower in a book.
About the author:
Keetje Kuipers has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Oregon Literary Arts, and SoapStone. She was the recipient of the 2007 Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, as well as the second place winner of the 2007 Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry. Her poems are currently published or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Willow Springs, among others. You can hear her read her work at the online audio archive From the Fishouse.
For further reading:
See the complete list of work by Keetje Kuipers at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 2, where "You loved a woman once" ran on June 29, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.