Ira Joel Haber © 2006 All Rights Reserved
An Hour After the Meteor Shower
Three blue numerals illumine the room.
You shiver, chilled from the fallow corn field.
We slip through the gloom, this electronic
twilight torn from NASA’s scrapbook of Neptune,
or the light from one of its cold moons
exposing towel craters and sheet plains.
Who knew matter would look like this, would take
on light, a sudden streak, would feel like this,
reveal a body nine planets away,
when all the light we thought that mattered was
three planets aligned. What does the question
of life matter so far from the sun? Why
not continue to Alpha Centauri
or another close star, find a planet
to settle, start our lives over, forget
the dark past, the path it took to get here,
light years away. All we would have is this
room’s pale light as guide, its stained navy sheets,
squeaky bed, boxer briefs, jeans, the turquoise
towel on the floor, two brown locked on two
blue as they orbit not each other but
morning’s ciphered blur.
Takedown : wrestlers joined
in fierce lines force
found in this intricate ritual
at the point force fails.
Delicate grapplers the groin
grounds for touch why
stall loins forever hot in a halo
of wash and stroke one
body set on tipping the other?
No reversals here no
turning back though exposed
the back triangulates head
arm and leg : most stable
of compositions the echo
and dip as tanned hands grip
wrists one face turned
up the other in to pin both
shoulders and lay the back
flat. After the body passes
the dimpled mustard
mat rises into itself that slow
give of padded elasticity
first creased then wrinkled
a custard body cradled
legs gathered up two shaven
heads passively bent
roped in torso twisted groin
groped slightly spread
Two Men in a Shower
Flipping through reruns, infomercials, I stalled
on palm tree silhouettes, an orange sky. David
Hockney’s name faded in, solidified, faded out.
Just days ago, snowed-in, I consumed an entire
volume of his work : the play of light on water
in his paper pools; photo collages and reversed
perspectives, vanishing point now the starting
point for a canvas that opens out, viewer lodged.
When I sat, then, and wrote the words “two men
in a shower,” wet plastic stirred, its translucent
surface beaded, droplets heaving into streaks
as shadowy flesh touched, bent, and broke-up
the shower stream’s thin spray. I thought, could
a digital snapshot recreate this? It could alter
but then, viewer, would it still hold true? Only
many photos co-joined, not in the sense of mosaic
or of animation flipbook, but whole corners over-
lapped like two bodies that bend, straighten, bend
again. True I washed him then he, me : one arm
lifted, then a leg, muscle sliding against muscle.
And when I drew the curtain back, when my hand
reached out to grab a towel did the account equal
truth or something new? My foot crossed the tiled
lip as he cast a towel, rubbed my back down,
droplets and streaks erased, linked, then released.
Did the scene stall here removed from time or did
you complete it, viewer? Focus on the hand held
against my abdomen, the hand on the frame, what
extends beyond the frame : a scene reflected before
the shower, into the shower, the extended after.
MATTHEW HITTINGER was educated at Muhlenberg College and the University of Michigan where he won the Hopwood Award for Poetry. Pushcart-nominated and a finalist for the National Poetry Series and Walt Whitman Award, his work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Best New Poets 2005, DIAGRAM, Fine Madness, Memorious, Meridian, and MQR (forthcoming). Matthew lives and works in New York City.
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