Poem by Lisa Gordon   •   Photo by Jill Burhans

What Nadia told them looking out over a sea of shoulders

I draw myself in one man.
The picture I make is unlovely to me
until there is him for a frame.
You call this wrong for some reason
you know but can’t defend. I, on the other hand,
looking both ways at once as I cross
this severe street of yours, taking in
the strong light, the heavy flora filled out
beyond shallow decorum – I look & don't see
me here, woman of small ferns, spindly overgrowth,
a bent stalk thriving in shade. “You love too much” you say
in a way I won't deny grounds itself in the vigour
of tried & treading actions, firm hands bent
on pushing back the cold, knees that hardly ever
buckle under pressure. But I have my reasons too –
the way, where I stay, feels inviting if a touch off kilter;
asks more than I can give but with understanding;
is not afraid of slight gashes in the surfaces, the dark blood's way
of letting you know it's always there
& needy – that to be needy is an acceptable way
of witnessing, no less honest than any other. Yes –
I draw myself in one man. It's the frame I won't disown
just because I get unhappy – a life,
wrestled life, hanging all eyes in
the covenant balance...

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