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Robert Wrigley
And what would I do with another picture

of her nude? The one I have I shown to no one,

not even her anymore,
for fear she might

want them back, or worse. But the one
I regret not taking most was that hot

summer night I rose for
a drink of water,

not even noticing at first I was alone,

until, in the hallway of the too-small house
we lived in then, I saw
her fully extended

on our son’s bed. He had a summer cold

and a little lifelong jones for the breast.

He was two, almost.
He’s been fussy from the
heat,

so she went to him there, and then there
she was too, sleeping – and all her long back,
head to heel.

In my half-wakefulness I
stood, ciphering

such a photograph’s mechanics: tripod, cable release,

the long moon- and night-lighted, sepia-
toned exposure….

When I told her years
later how close I’d come,

she said I should have, it would have been fine,

and there lies the source of my regret: her late permission.

Though I think of it now
only as I slip the others

from the safe place they’re hidden in,

six in all: three along a mountain river;

one in a galvanized tub
at the hot springs;

another, fishing from the shore of a mountain lake, in sunglasses –

and then the absent one, framed by the doorway:
on the nearest edge of a
twin bed,

a stuffed bear looking on from the cast-off sheets,

the rasping boy out of sight on the other side of her,

and a particular sheen
on her skin, as if

she’d been basted or entirely, relentlessly kissed,

even the bottoms of her slender, delectable feet

aglow.

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

 

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