If it’s Left, it’s Right

This poem is about finding our way as we navigate intimacy and vulnerability and new spaces in our lives. I wrote it very quickly, although it had been whispering to me for some time, in my head. Sometimes I sense when a piece needs to be written: I feel an “itch” on my mind and in my heart. It’s an exciting and scary feeling. Can I express this correctly? Can I find the best words? Can I do justice to my jumbled emotions? In the writing of it, I often make sense of things that have been troubling or preoccupying me.

 

If it’s right, it’s left, she used to say, my dearest childhood friend.

Her pointer would tennis-match back and forth, back and forth.

I’ve always confused the two.

I’m surprised I ever know which way to go.

We found our way, together and apart.

I think of this and of her as I lie now here with you

and your fingers search for the way to go,

and in the searching and the detours and the doubling back

lies the sweetness.

I caress your face and our impossible closeness sighs already of your departure.

If it’s right, it’s left.

I’ve always confused the two.

When we strip away our clothes

the echoes of what might have been in other lives, with other lovers, whisper to the floor with them.

But we take what is before us: the shimmering, stolen moments, the remnants of treasures,

the glorious ouch of discovering fingers.

We cradle carefully in our hands what is left to us.

If it’s left, it’s right.

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