by Kelley White

your coolness was comfort
I was so often fevered
and your cool roundness just fit
the curve of my elbow or knee
I could roll your cheek against mine
or along my hot forehead
then tuck you under the curve of my chin
with a finger I could trace
the dimples built into your fingers,
your molded hair, the scratched glass
of your growing-old eyes

like me you are almost fifty, an antique
I loved your first two bodies to pieces
when my grandfather saw I slept
with just your head he found a way
for there to be a third in those days
when I could not sleep for fear of dreams
in pity and hope I remember you
clamped to his iron workbench
as glue set and joints fused
making you for my use
whole again

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Debbie and I had matching Christmas outfits in 1957.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I still have Debbie though she is over 60 now (as am I) and missing an arm. I worry about what will become of her if I’m not around to take care of her.


Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.