By Eleanor Lerman

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These are ordinary love bandages stolen from the rich and famous It's a 24-hour treatment uninterrupted music played softly Am I right to think your body is unfair to me? I am defenseless against your early sorrow Alone at night, with only my dirty pictures and pill bottles I cry over the little brown photographs mailed to me anonymously that were taken at family gatherings during your childhood In the pictures, you are never present I do what I can for you, but I have no proper training no telephone numbers to call for advice In my prime I was a love bandit and weren't you proud of me then?

I have no other country no one else Page 45 Chances We bend our legs and all the world is hushed perhaps in amazement, perhaps in sympathy I cannot say, and what would change if I had anything to say? You do not know how much I am afraid for you Despite my age I know the stages of poetic polio: the tingling joints, the contracting rings that cut your fingers into jewelry pieces seen against the sun: dry, oyster white, and declining We break our embrace but do not perish Spring holds out too long We grow moody and are too swollen with our own impatience at being inactive to begin a conversation I offer you skin, and you refuse halfheartedly Something else should have been placed in front of you but I am currently heart-poor and languishing beneath the dry trees that are too tender to be touched I am tired of spring out of season You weary me, yet I remain blank-faced hovering somewhere in your sight without committing myself to coming indoors and setting up diversions I enter like a bad jewel into your soliloquy like a bad pearl seeded in the gaps of your sentences but you do not make the effort to despise me For this I grant you the ambivalent grace of water without ground to heal or swallow The gods of nature are lately grown superstitious and uneven in their pronouncements Often they hide themselves in grape leaves bind their mouths with cherry vines and hiss through cracks in the sunlight Those years nothing is reached no distance draws to a close Page 46 Housework Auntie has set us to washing dishes I am to wash the milk plates and you the meat in consideration of our orthodox religion but only you can use the soft bars of human soap I must be content with a lick of your elbow or one strand of blonde hair to wrap secretly around my half of the cutlery This is a very suspicious house The little white beasts in the attic are fed on fruit juices but lately have been suspected of dreaming about flesh So this is why we keep coming back here One of us has been saving the blood coupons that are supposed to go into the family pool When do I get my new set of teeth?

And my music lessons? It is kind of you to insist that I only married into this family but I have already taken you into my heart and my heart, it is well known is no small trick of expensive surgery I was only trying to put one soapy hand inside your pants when Auntie started reading those horrible letters all over again and you had to go out into the living room and cuddle up real close and explain to her three times that you met me long after that series of brief Page 47 unusual affairs had been concluded In the kitchen, with my collection of hairs and animal feeding tubes I froth visibly and grumble over the sink Are you telling her I'm not a radiation case?

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