My Wife’s Back by Sydney Lea

My Wife’s Back

All naked but for a strap, it traps my gaze
As we paddle: the dear familiar nubs
Of spine-bone punctuating that sun-warmed swath,

The slender muscles that trouble the same sweet surface.
We’ve watched and smiled as green herons flushed
And hopped ahead at every bend, and we’ve looked up

At a redtail tracing open script on a sky
So clear and deep we might believe
It’s autumn, no matter it’s August still. Another fall

Will be on us before we know it. Of course we adore
That commotion of color, but it seems to come
Again as soon as it’s gone away. They all do now.

We’re neither young anymore, to put matters plainly.
My love for you over thirty years
Extends in all directions, but now to your back as we drift

And paddle down the tranquil Connecticut River.
We’ve seen a mink scratch fleas on a mudflat.
We’ve seen an osprey start to dive but seeing us,

Think better of it. Two phoebes wagged on an ash limb.
Your torso is long. I can’t see your legs
But they’re longer, I know. Phoebe, osprey, heron, hawk:

Marvels under Black Mountain, but I am fixed
On your back, indifferent to other wonders:
Bright minnows that flared in the shallows,

the gleam off that poor mink’s coat,
even the fleas in its fur, the various birds
–the lust of creatures just to survive.

But I watch your back. Never have I wished more not to die.

by Sydney Lea

Editor’s Note: The sharp longing of the last line focuses the clear imagery of this poem into a difficult realization that any reader who loves and has loved will understand.

3 thoughts on “My Wife’s Back by Sydney Lea

  1. Thank you, Christine: a lovely comment, all the better for being true to the poem’s attentions/intentions.

    Stay safe,

    SL

    On Fri, Nov 5, 2021 at 8:00 AM Autumn Sky Poetry Daily wrote:

    > Christine Klocek-Lim posted: “My Wife’s Back All naked but for a strap, it > traps my gaze As we paddle: the dear familiar nubs Of spine-bone > punctuating that sun-warmed swath, The slender muscles that trouble the > same sweet surface. We’ve watched and smiled as green herons flushed An” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The word play in the title nicely sets up the repetition of “back” in the poem, which also makes it easy to see the back pictured and the associations that go with it, as well as setting up the further twist of word play in the final line. This could easily have gotten too cute, but you manage to keep it sublime.

    Like

  3. A beautiful blend of the Outdoors, Nature, and the way we focus on the pure erotic pleasure of seeing some we love. I guess women also notice such visual beauty. Thank you.

    Like

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