You might be the most
exquisite corpse, not a poem
but a body weighed down

by unsaid words.
I passed my hand
along your jaw—skin cold

as I always heard
it would be. Once,
you let me shave your cheek

with a straight-blade, carefully
in short persistent strokes.
We were both afraid—

a fear that made us
tender too—the blood
gone from your face

by now. There’s a diener
who bathes the dead,
prepares them for a widow’s

touch, an embalmer
who shaves the stubble
where skin has shrunk back

to the skull.
I only want this poem
to do one (very) simple thing:

to keep a piece of you
from fading.

Plan for a device of words by Erika Luckert

Listen to this poem:

Photo used under CC.