Touching Each Other’s Surfaces by Carol Jane Bangs

This used to mean something.

Touching Each Other’s Surfaces
Carol Jane Bangs

Skin meeting skin, we want to think
we know each other scientifically;
we want to believe
it is objective knowledge
gives this conviction of intimacy,
makes us say it feels so right.
That mole below your shoulder blade,
the soft hair over my thighs—
we examine our bodies with the precision
known only to lovers or surgeons,
all those whose profession is explication,
who have to believe their own words.
And yet, having memorized each turning,
each place where bone strains or bends,
each hollow, each hair, each failure of form,
we still encounter that stubborn wall,
that barrier which hides an infinite vastness
the most sincere gesture can’t find.

Nor does emotion take us further
than the shared heat of our bodies
aware of themselves,
the flattery of multiple desires.
We rest in each other’s arms unexplained
by these currents of feeling rushing past
like ripples over a pool of water
whose substance never changes,
reflecting each wave, each ribboned crossing,
without being really moved.
We search each other’s eyes so long
beyond our own reflections,
finding only the black centers,
the immeasurable interior we’ll
never reach with candle,
never plumb with love.

Perhaps it is just this ignorance,
this absence of certainty, lack of clear view,
more than anything, brings us together,
draws us into and through each other
to the unknown inside us all,
that gray space from which
what we know of ourselves
emerges briefly, casts a transient
shadow across the earth
and learns to believe in itself just enough
to believe in some one else.

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