Devil’s Lake

Spring 2010 Issue

Erinn Batykefer: Epithalamium: Necrophilia

You say, Be very still

so I sink into a tubful of ice

and learn to breathe through my skin

like a reptile.

If I were dead, would you touch me

the way I want to be touched?

Imagine the pleated sweep of a sheet is a metal slab,

the floor a draining board,

sloped concrete the color of dirty ice.

The hose to shear away a lacquer of blood, and the hose

to draw it from me like a straw.

A soaked towel to swab me down.

I have ached for the slow ritual of stripping,

imagined you, one hand cradling my lolling head, the other

peeling the cut shirt from my shoulders.

How close my frost-rimed lips come

to your collarbone then,

but no closer.

How stark my body, the blush-siphoned skin

fishpale and shining.

The ice cubes hiss and crack like knuckles, like teeth.

Soon, soon, they’ll stop melting

against my skin

and I’ll go boneless, unblinking, as if stunned

by the shock of your touch,

as if I cannot bear to look away

when you bend over me, put your lips to the cold volute

of my ear and whisper

how you want me: dead,

kin to always.

Don’t move, you’ll say, Be very still.

a photo of the author, Erinn Batykefer ERINN BATYKEFER is the author of Allegheny, Monongahela (Red Hen Press 2009), which won the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Prize. Her poetry and nonfiction have been featured recently in Prairie Schooner, FIELD, Sou’wester, and The Journal, among others. She’s currently at work on a second collection and a memoir. More from this issue >