The Lover

Michael Shewmaker

Winter 2017

presses his ear against the thinnest wall
of his apartment. In the empty space
between, he hears a static like the sea’s.

Past that—above the television’s talk
she always falls asleep to—a loud clock
tallies the gradual hours.
He waits until
she rouses for a drink, washes her face,
removes her lenses. Then he pulls away,
paces the hall again.
The Cabernet
he bartered from a girl with scarlet lips
just west of the canal—outside of Lille—
lies uncorked on the counter. Overhead,
the fan wheels freely in the dark.
The dead,
he thinks, must make for patient lovers. He
should go to bed.
This late, the distant ships—
the quiet chore of their unmooring—sound
to him like her when no one is around,

when, loosening her robe by slow degrees—
as he unloops and coils his belt now—she
presses her ear firmly against the wall.

Michael Shewmaker is the recent winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and author of Penumbra (forthcoming from Ohio University Press). He is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University.

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