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Touch (Johnny Levy)

This guy mashed my face in with his elbow
When we were playing basketball.
Old cornfed, elbow-swinging suckah. 

I had to get four stitches

At the time all I could think was 
How my lip somehow felt 
Bigger than my whole mouth puth together
And I mopped the bloody chasm,
And Cornfed followed me 
Apologizing, and I nodded, and 
Didn’t really try to smile as I 
Asked the properly concerned
Rec attendants for ice. 

Old cornfed, elbow-swingin suckah.

The Doc, she said I could get stitches
Or not. 

I said lemme have it, I ain’t had
Stitches for a while. 

I lay down.  Doc adjusted the light with handles. 

The nurse slid this white sheet over my face
That had a hole innit around my jutting mouth. 
The nurse was older. 

A wide-eyed and tender wisp of bones. 

She didn’t chew her lip except maybe in her mind,
And she covered my hand with hers, leaf light,

For three seconds. 

I stared into blind whiteness. 
The Doc gave me the needle. 

Then I felt the numb tugging of string, 
All the while staring into the blank sheet.

I felt it with my whole body 
When the nurse took her hand away. 
A door, closing. 

I didn’t need it
But it was nice. 

I admired that nurse for three seconds.
Because she touched my hand like that. 

And she didn’t even know me. 

And I am a 6’3” coffee-skinned brown eyes.
Been told that I intimidate even without trying,
Current cultural trends being what they are, 
And the violence in hip hop and whatnot. 

But it was nice. 

But what am I, supposed to give her a cookie
For doing her job? 

Should I expect nice chewy-lip eyed nurse-ladies
Not to touch me? Am I supposed to give her a cookie? 

Cornfed, elbow-swingin suckah, I saw

The crack of light that was almost beautiful
When his elbow blasted me. 
And now this Doc yankin strings 
Through my broken flesh, this
White, this flat, flat white sheet.

Like an animal. It holds back my eyes
So I can’t see the Doc. 
Like her digging up in my lip
Is none of my business. 

So I stare down the my nose through the hole
And I can see my lip stretching nasty like a marionette--

Is that all I wasn’t supposed to see? 
It’s white veils like this on my face
That make me so surprised by the tenderness of a
White, blue-veined hand on my hand, 
I think, I think I wear this white veil
To school and work and home and bathroom too

You get it? I don’t. Quite. 
But it has something to do with people and their
Places, what we use in our points  
Of contact to make sure we all 
Know who’s who. 

Shiny nightstick
So I know a cop is a cop, white veil over my 
Face so that I know Doc is doing
The Doc’s business, not to be confused with 
My business, I not being a doctor, but a patient, 
Not even that--a lip that needs stitching. 
And him? An elbow. A big, cornfed elbow. 
And them, white, and me
Not. And the sky? Blue. 

God made us in his image. 

We make one another
Into the image of what  
We want to chew on for the moment. 

Shopping for things
That fit well into cabinets. 

Shopping for things of taste. 

But then, 
The reach. 
The almost trembling 

Of a soft hand on mine
That might have poked through 
The linen on our faces for three--

Through the fabric that strains the light
For three, for three seconds,

Three glorious seconds. 

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