“Love across a Long Table” poem by Katie Selbee

TGS poetry 18

Love across a Long Table

poem by Katie Selbee

after Christopher Evans’ “Like a Sauna Choked with Incense”

In my unmade mind my fingers
perpetually pinch your jaw as if feeling
for canine teeth. I am
inspecting: considering you first from that angle
and then this. With your unvarnished splintered skin
you look like Shackleton, Frank Worsley
or Tom Crean, bit and licked
by polar winds. Like
a thrice-printed and blurred black-and-white photo
somewhere seen, Tom Thompson standing
with hands in wool pockets behind a twine line
of sun-dried gutted fish skins, squinting
darkly into white sheen. Consider
your hair: how it throws itself
down to the brow it makes me think of
Romanticist paintings; of great works of art copied
stroke-for-stroke by worshipful students; The Raft
of the Medusa with its strange mesmerizing
triangular relations, naked,
dark arms reaching, snaking
up in a most seductively-composed distress.
And your right eye, which doesn’t seem to quite agree
with your left—a mark of good-reading.
Mine follow it down as my feet might
meandering deer-paths in coastal forests; I can’t resist its
lone rambling suggestiveness, even though
I know I should be following
the other one.