Skip to content →

The Inarticulate

Touching your face, I am like a boy

who bags groceries, mindless on a Saturday,

jumbling cans of wax beans and condensed milk

among frozen meats, the ribboned beef

and chops like maps of continental drift,

extremes of weather and hemisphere,

egg carton perched like a Napoleonic hat,

til he touches something awakened by water,

a soothing skin, eggplant or melon or cool snow pea,

and he pauses, turning it in his hand,

this announcement of color, purple or green,

the raucous rills of the aisles overflowing,

and by now the shopper is staring

when the check-out lady turns and says

“Jimmy is anything the matter?”

Touching your face, I am like that boy

brought back to his body, steeped

in the moment, fulfilled but unable to speak.

from Parthenopi: New and Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2000
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Michael Waters Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.