Four poems

Gary Young

It’s a joy to be subtracted from the world. Holding my son’s naked body against my own, all I feel is what he is. I cannot feel my own skin. I cannot feel myself touching him, but I can recognize his hair, the heft of his body, his warmth, his weight. I cannot measure my own being, my subtle boundaries, but I know my son’s arms, the drape of his legs, smooth and warm in a shape I can measure. I have become such a fine thing, the resting-place for a body I can know.

I bought eggplants at the farmer’s market, long and slender, the deep purple reserved for nightshade, castor, the garden’s poisonous brood. I was admiring the eggplant’s waxy skin, its tender flesh, when a farmer thrust a tomato into my hand. I bit into the firm, red fruit, belladonna’s passionate cousin, and ate it under his watchful eye. He looked at me and nodded, as if he knew how far I’d go for pleasure.

I know that bird calling out in the night. This isn’t the first time he’s mistaken moonlight for sunrise.

She handed me a piece of salmon, ruby-hued and redolent of wood smoke and the sea. Moist, silky with oil, I ate it slowly, and told her, I’ve only eaten salmon like this once, years ago on the Skagit River. She said, this salmon was caught on the Skagit. She went on, but I wasn’t listening. I was thinking of eagles in the cedars; raw oysters, fennel bread, salmon and white wine; oyster shells in the middens; ice breaking under our boots on the trail to Fishtown.