SELF-PORTRAIT WITH OTHER AFTER THE FIRE
When the house went up in fire, I spent
all the nights awake and waiting.
Cotton sheets went thin
on my body holes
in the roof saran-wrapped
windows. Then you came,
your body shaping the bed
the panic I felt whenever
a plane rose in the skylight
engine thrum and contrails
smoke stained the ceiling in patterns:
salamander, paint pony, the animals
that run away. I wrote something
without you in it. I built a fence
to stop myself from leaving.
I went to work on the house. Tossed
ashy shingles in the trash, put
clean glass into panes.
I am finding my skin taut
in places the smoothness of new
cells, the trappings (you
know) of you.
I must put them
on me like a fur, the weight
of it the texture brushing
over my skin at my face
how it holds my chin up how it
turns my face up, a sturdy rod
runs up my spine from coccyx
to neck an adaptation
developed in extremis,
aided by you, the person
who gave me the animal skins
the ones that stay close to the body.
Katherine Eulensen lives, works, and writes in the Pacific Northwest.