My beloved hums Haydn
at the oddest junctures of night.
At 3 AM, rising
to relieve myself, one hand
a brace against bathroom-tile,
I hear her countless movements,
the familiar nasal whine of her sleep.
When I step back
enlivened, I strip
the sheets that tangle
her legs’ spastic capoeira.
Strapping honêtte homme, as Haydn was—
and equally pockmarked, and beginning
to fall into my music—
I am relearning home.
I settle, spread
sheets and quilt over us,
hum the steep intervals of intimacy
in her folded ear; and rather
than drifting, she wakes.
She glances at the clock, at me,
murmurs something about allergies, needing me
to stand up, grab some water, some water . . .
But she is still quince on the tongue, bletted
of birthright astringency.
Now and again she hums a little Surprise; I search
her head for musical
bumps of phrenology, the kind it’s said
Haydn had, when friends examined
his stolen head.
More and more, my love is like the punctured
ostrich-egg in the drawer—the birthing
wound in its shell (a gift
from Saudi Arabia, from an uncle
in the dunes of war):
strange to think that missing
such a small bit of something could leave
its whole so hollow.
I look for a comfortable future:
mornings and evenings, years and years of coping-
saw dances along our geometry,
and always a heavy stomp
toward bed—contrition for my silence—
and a well-rehearsed kiss
as we’re swallowed
by the mattress we wear
our sags into.
Like the trapunto of our marriage quilt,
her smile fills her face
with flesh to near-bursting.
But sometimes, no matter how I make
the bed in the morning,
when I’m away, she corrects me.