Evenings I’d find you
            bent over the dining room table
                        like a surgeon over a disembodied angel. 

 Under five yellow lights
            you would rearrange
                        the wispy wings, pin them 

 to the floral cotton,
            the blue corduroy—
                        the common material our bodies might fit.

 This was the beginning
            of the reconstruction. You worked
                         with a quiet determination,

 the knuckles of your long fingers
                        as you applied the tiny teeth

 of the tracing wheel
            against the delicate skin. 

 after your careful unpinning,
            the anticipated sundering
                        and airy uplift—

 forgive me my moments of doubt—
            the mortal fabric
                        would lie there, yes,

 bearing the marks ...



 You knew in time                      
             the dress or slacks would grow
                        too tight, or short,                                                

 that our days would be a succession
            of stepping in and out of pants and skirts,
                        blouses and shirts,                                                

 of turning in the long mirrors,
            wanting beauty,
                        lines that flatter,

 cloth that carries the wearer
            when brains are not enough.
                        Yet wanting more than that.

 Despite the turtlenecks and scarves
            you wear today to hide
                        your wrinkly neck. 

 One day it will all come off. 
            Someone will bathe our bare bodies,
                        maybe efficiently,

 perhaps with revulsion or fear.
            If we’re lucky
                        with tenderness.

 I cannot bear to think of you this way.
            Your lovely, bony body
                         no more. 

 Your dress folded over a chair.