TWO POEMS by Keetje Kuipers

/ / Issue 19, Uncategorized


The old frisbee from Burger Chef, once red
but faded now the pale pink of my wife’s
widening aureoles, lies upturned
beneath the saltwater drip of our sagging
beach towels. This world is full of objects
succumbing to the gentle ebb of decay. But her body—
loosening breasts and blue-veined thighs caught
in a cascade of wet light as she turns
beneath the showerhead’s senseless spray—
is not one of them. That low-blooming
shudder and heft at her hips can’t compare
to her belly button’s skin stretched taut
and thin, become the pale sail of a boat
screaming into harbor. I am here
to praise the way in which everything
I have ever loved about her body
is about to be ruined forever in the breaking
open. Tonight the wind will come up,
turn the towels on the line into fat bells,
churn the waves into a froth, drag the sand
out and leave it where our toes can’t touch.
In the morning, the ocean will return
to its languid sheet, but the beach will be strewn
with the wreckage. I want already
the body scarred by stretch marks, the extra flap
of skin to hang soft at her waist, the feet
that will never again be quite so small.
I want to worship the body after the storm,
the one I’m imagining already
as she unfolds the straps from her shoulders
and peels the suit off, her skin covered in
those minute and glittering fragments of shell
some people insist on calling sand.




We’re at the resort, the one with the forty-one
pools, and it’s night so if we were up in the swaying
fronds of a palm tree the ground would stretch before us
a green freckled thigh against a dark sheet. But Greta
and I are inside, perched on the edge of the bed
watching my wife sleep. She’s beautiful, we agree,
and my daughter, too, their blond hair spread against
the pillow like a silk scarf in a silent movie.
Though now Greta’s impatient with all the watching,
the kid especially, so we go outside to smoke
her cigarettes, to lean our backs against the white
adobe walls and kiss for as long as it takes.
The electronic lock clicks behind us, a set
of perfect teeth, and I’m chasing Greta across
the lawn with its lemon trees I can smell in the dark,
past the lounge chair where someone’s abandoned
the sort of wide brimmed hat meant to keep us young,
over the patio still warm as skin from the sun’s
relentless shining, toward the place where she’s already
slipped off her dress and climbed into the water,
side-stroking with one arm and holding her smoke
aloft with the other. And if I say it’s a dream,
it will have no power. And if I say it’s real,
no one will ever believe me. But can’t it
be both? I want to rub my body against her
perfect one. So I do. All my nubbly parts sanded
down against the smooth monument of her form,
ageless as the desert once was before we came here
and turned it into a golf course. Now only
my hunger—its vast, unquenchable fury—
interrupts the glow of each long leg as she traces
eggbeater circles in the blue depths beneath her.