Elizabeth Bradfield

Against Solitude

Leave your reindeer bag, damp and moldering,
and slide into mine. Two of us, I’m sure, could
warm it, could warm. Let me help you from your traces,
let me rub what’s sore. Don’t speak. Your hair has grown long
in our march, soft as my wife’s. Keep your beard turned
toward the tent’s silk, your fusty breath—I know none of us
can help it, I know, and truthfully I’m glad for any scent in this…
Hush. How long has it been since my mouth has held anything
other than ice and pemmican? Your skin, though wan and sour,
is firm, delicious. Yes, your shoulder, your hip. I’d not thought
how soft a man’s hip would be, how curved the flesh above the backs
of his thighs—listen do you hear the wind moaning, the ice
groaning beneath us as it strains?

Elizabeth Bradfield
“Against Solitude” first appeared in Poetry Magazine, November 2005, v. clxxxvii no.2.