Meditation on Your Bare Feet

In the fruit-apple
crimp of glamour
and fizzing pressures
I found your feet,
your painted nails,
So Much Fawn,
a rose-colored soul,
flagrance of motions,
though you were
miles away;
the image of a small rose
on the nape of your neck
I loved especially,
out of generations measuring
the center of our first meeting,
the coming months we
drove to the ocean
and walked along the beach.
You wore your sandals
because you did not
want me to see your feet.

Instinct returns our
histories to shoulders.
Memory’s bone
lays ground
for cut-down cherry trees
in orchards thousands
of years before
you and I were born,
your bloom our dance
as we move round and round like
the fingers of little babies.
We do not rush
as we begin again,
spooning heartbeats and
tickles from your hair.

I drift, letting pleasure sink
into your fingers,
pressing my arms,
for you are strong,
your profile inviting me
right down to your
sweetest bone.

That first time we met
you were grounded
at the college
for tossing a snowball
down the hall.
Where we courted in the parlor,
our conversation, I mean,
must have sounded
low like moles
giving themselves to whatever
weather could make them.
I loved the fine hairs around your neck,
where your shoulders,
broad as the Missouri,
shaped your turning
face and your whisper
of a voice, a Grace
promise rose out of
half a century
inside our hearts

and now climbs a trellis
outside our pulses
to reduce the burdens,
replacing them with
tunics of beauty, things of joy.



Shelby Stephenson, poet laureate, North Carolina, 2015-2018; recent book, Slavery and Freedom on Paul’s Hill.