Humanity is a body singular.
When pressured to
When ordered to
When prevented from
leaning in, touching, breathing
each other in,
Even the quietest, most distant, and fearful among us
recognizes this unnaturalness, knows the desire and the lack.
To be separated, caged
in a cage
or in our own homes
rips a hurricane through our chests.
Just this once, we tell ourselves,
No one will know
about that clandestine hug.
No one will know about that nip taken
at the glass-block corner bar.
No one will see how broken
were the rules,
how that is not separate from this:
I watched my neighbor through the window
contained in his snow-edged yard.
He wore a t-shirt and carried a yellow bucket that swung too high
to contain anything.
Why an empty bucket?
Why the t-shirt? Though spring, it is still winter.
And why winter?
Last night through my window
The trees became my eyes.
My eyes became a lace of branches
visible only in winter,
visible only in the naked tree
against a moon sky. The stars stranded themselves
in that lace, a pattern and beauty impossible
for any human to replicate
because our body in the body is not whole,
is not distinct
from your body and mine.
It makes me sick
that some men, sallow and sour, and
the stupid women who suck their
cheeks in to be gorgeous
are part of the body too.
Let them be welcome.
But not as the steady hand or eager heart,
and certainly not the brain.
A toenail, maybe, where malignancy won’t take hold.
And when this long winter sorrow ends,
we will wash our hair
we will trim our nails
we will step outside and kiss the air
and we will embrace our singular humanity.