Monday, March 28, 2011


The women who love me
tread upon my sleep
and I am awakened
by their coming

one by one, visiting my living
room, arranging themselves
upon furniture, dropping their luggage
and backpacks meant for staying.

“We’ve come for you,” one says.
But we go nowhere together.

Instead, they fan out around my house,
take up residence in my bed,
rattle pans in my kitchen,
dust the houseplants.

I am wanted yet wanting
for what they want from me.

I make love to the boldest,
make conversation with the shyest,
dance with those who stand in corners.

And yet not one takes me
with her.

I suckle at a breast that becomes
suddenly another’s breast.

I tongue the familiar lips
of a stranger. I am

fed, bedded, and plumped
by so many more than I could ever
possibly appease.

I name and tremble before each one
so she might kiss
my cheek, stroke her hands  
upon my oiled hair, say my name
as if she means it, and whisper
her divine demand in my scarlet ear.

Then, I run. I mean,
I flee as I am meant 
for leaving, and no one 

© Ami Mattison


  1. This is a fascinating poem, Ami. I can read it several ways but ultimately as the "I" who narrates the poem as being all the women who tread upon sleep.

    "... whisper / her divine demand in my scarlet ear" is lovely.

    That 7th stanza would be even more striking without the first two words. Similarly, a bit of cropping of the last stanza might leave it stronger (e.g.: "Then I run. I mean / I flee / as I am meant for leaving."

  2. Very dreamlike, very controlled--I see images and reflections of the self as well as lovers' faces--and how many of those don't we run away from? A lovely, deft array of visuals and sensual language as well, all leading the reader to think about the lines between people and self, between dreams and reality.

  3. Thanks, Maureen and Hedgewitch, for your encouraging remarks!

    Maureen, I like your suggestions. That last stanza has seen several different line breaks so far. I'll try "I flee" on a line by itself. Thanks!

  4. GRR @ Blogger!!!! I just left a gape-jawed comment at how fricking close to the bone and brilliant this is, and got the "service not available" error thingie. Gah!

  5. a haunting piece, Ami. the last stanza won't leave me for a while

  6. no one will take me with them and no one will come with me...just use me for pleasure, company a dance or two then pass me on to the next...nope dont know anything about, cant relate at all...snickers...a wonderful write ami...

  7. This is beautifully written. It appears (to me) that you try to please all the women in your life but fail to succeed...?

  8. Hedgewitch and I have had a couple conversations about our poetry as a stumbling, Job-like faith in the Voice inside our ear -- from very different perspectives, the verbal rules we follow stem from that Voice. Sometimes I think of the Voice as the sound of the sea, remembered all the way down to my earliest childhood when I heard my mother sing by the sea other times it's down my brainstem to the first animal to leave the sea. Sometimes it's a deep father, down a line of fathers into the mythological zone. I read these women in that way, the chorus of Voices present and past who nurture and further and naysay your own -- especially in "...whisper / her divine demand in my scarlet ear.' And the lonliness of this is that "no one follows" -- we all proceed into our poems and their Orphic scatter alone. Very fine work. - Brendan

  9. Dreamy and sensual. Thanks for listening to the divine demand in your scarlet ear.