A naked man bent double in front of a tree
and the twisted arms of the night in the sky.
Trying to remember everything she told me
to warm me from the heart to the thigh when I’m locked up in
my steel coffin, my hard body shrouded with a cloth decorated
with flowers like the cake I had on my sixteenth birthday.
Like Max in the storybook who wore a black crown.
On Highway 45 I lost my glove and my last pack
of cigarettes, the pack with the picture of the camel
on both sides, gritting his teeth in the desert
like my old toys and my brother, who, once when he was five
swung a baseball bat at the lady next door
and called her a big fat elephant.
At the party I walked into the living room
with my pants down around my knees, when my mind
wasn’t well. And asked her if it hurt
the first time I kissed her, threw her ring
through the window of the old folks’ home, ‘cause
my future was death, exactly like hers.
Because that naked man was me.
Christine Zawadiwsky was feature poet in a recent issue of Open Places. She goes on being prolific in Milwaukee. (Spring 1975)