Touch

Touch

Brian Riedel, Associate Director of CSWGS

Touch
Contact
Intimacy

Distance sharpens them
I rank now by risk now by reward
In faith a future will loosen the order

I reach only for my husband and our dogs
Though it is unfair to expect of them
All to which I am accustomed

These conscious choices to refrain
Your hand my face it helps
But only some to see love in that refusal

And contact turns fearful mystery more like
Second-hand smoke than avoidable collision
Near is now too much but far enough evades me

Rear view mirrors dangle masks
And dirt pools in spent blue
Gloves abandoned on sidewalks

Parks shroud monkey bars in yellow tape
Stores shield clerks with spit-guard sheets
Our eyes catch each other over mouthless faces

And that contact there across the aisle
Is reassuring even with our dance for space
And certain shelves long clear of anything but dust

On home fronts screens large and small filter
Faces stories data voices all connections intimate
We hang on electrons free of viral loads

Yes my siblings all shelter here if unequally
Linked by more than gravity to this green rock
And its creatures large and small

Do not mistake this for a one-time thing
We are inventive and have done this before
So for now and in the next times I will hold you

Safe and queerly intimate
Our contact free
Of touch