February Poem of the Month — Sarah Maclay

Instructions for Wooing

I don’t want to wear rocks on my hands—
or metal, or anything dug from the earth.
I want my hands naked, I want my nails short,
I want nothing between us—no symbol, no law,

no metal, or anything dug from the earth.
No backbreaking labor, no three-carat deals—
I want nothing between us—no symbol, no law,
no grand proclamations, no bells, no expense,

no backbreaking labor, no three-carat deals,
no flowers, not anything torn from its roots,
no grand proclamations, no bells, no expense,
just this, just this: your skin, my skin.

No flowers! Not anything torn from its roots!
I want us unpolished, unvarnished, undone.
Just this, just this: your skin, my skin.
I’ll wear your hands instead of a gown.

I want us unpolished. Unvarnish! Undo!
I want your hands naked. I want your nails short.
Oh! Your hands! Instead of a gown.
I don’t want to wear rocks on my hands.

Sarah Maclay’s newest release is Music for the Black Room (UT Press). Her poems appear in APR, Ploughshares, FIELD, Poetry Daily, VerseDaily, The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 to the Present, Poetry International and elsewhere. She teaches at LMU. www.sarahmaclay.com

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