• 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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