Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Art Appreciation — Alison Hornbeck

I love nothing quite like I love your hands

when you’ve just returned from drawing class,

the pads of your thumbs smudged dark,

charcoal dust settled in the lines of your knuckles,

a few dark and careless storm clouds obscuring

the otherwise sunny maps of your palms.

There is mystery to these impermanent marking,

these artists’ tattoos,

like the brand of some secret society to which

I could never belong.

I picture you meeting your fellow members in dark alleys,

all of you silently presenting your stained palms

as proof of your legitimacy, then dispersing

with your pencils and your sketchbooks

to perch on overturned trash cans and document the world.

I wonder,

is that what you would be doing now

if you weren’t here with me instead,

pressing faint carbon fingerprints

into the bare paper skin of my back?

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