snapshot #12: jouissance

Leah Sheppard

("look it up"
the reddening French professor mumbles)

the battle
of lying in your arms culminates one day
in three words.
your voice does not go up.
this is not a request, not a declaration, but
a book written in your tone, beginning:

My arms were open before you
ever stepped to the edge.

"look at me,"
summons my eyes to reach into yours,
flings a lifeline into the recesses of
illusory memory where I
reside-- sharp-toothed cave-dweller
snarling, wordless.

what simple movement
an inhumanly total and simultaneous fusion of
every nerve pulled up at the
root, every single crushed vertebrae?
disorienting clarity
reveals the blindness of reduction:
we are neither one nor two.

the moment of struggle for first breath passes.
what resonates between is still not written,
requires no translation.

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Published in association with the University of Pennsylvania Writers House
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