In the film, Amy Adams is muttering about time
as she masters its inkblots. I’m listening
to your guttural clench, your vocal fry
as each new breath discovers its chord.
Your forehead unknots, lips snatch or O
at something just beyond your range.
Newcomer, it’s unnerving to learn again
the way the world works; all my well-earned
aphorisms hauled out and reinspected
as if they could teach you anything. We’ve got it
all rearward, this pedagogy. What can you gain
from me who’s lost so much? Let’s lie together, listen
to what the world says, learn to speak it back.
Tonight we hold you up late ―
four hands gather yours one by one
to trim your fingernails. Each hilum
radiant against the scissors’ blade
falls to my palm, its snowflake edge
catches every dint and fissure of
a touch I’d thought soft.
Your milk skin is strafed with red
on your cheek, flywing eyelids shut
to this evening’s pruning. Some cut arcs
are smutted with fust, dark
where you’ve learnt of dirt
in miniature. I turn the peelings
like the mutes of some tiny owl
then watch them circle the plughole;
exceptional, new-coined fish. I feel
I’ve picked through something immaculate.
Our world’s too big now; my nostrils, pores,
armpits all cinema-large, our backwaters
grown inhuman, cavernous.
Perhaps that’s what love is, my
great benevolence for smallnesses.
I could fill rooms with hair, eyelashes,
and all the things we trim away.
Luke Palmer’s work has appeared in various places in print and online. His debut pamphlet, Spring in the Hospital (2018) is available from Prole Books and his first YA novel is due in 2021. When not looking after his two brilliant daughters, he can mostly be found in the writing shed or @lcpalmerpoet