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the first time you undressed me you peeled me like a small cold

girl who had fallen in the snow your hands were gentle and soft

you stroked me like a chickadee who had tumbled from a nest

when I reached out and placed my hand on your ribs slid it up

over the bones I felt your heart race strong and hard felt how

that was for me because of me      I splayed my hand my fingers

on your white skin pressed gently then more firmly until my

handprint was embedded red in your white chest my bones

impressed upon your skin      it didn't fade until after our

breathing slowed      your heartbeat slowed

sometimes I fell asleep with head pressed to your chest      your

long arms wrapped around me once and a half listening to your

heart like a puppy to an alarm clock wrapped in a towel      your

breath echoing those steady true thumps with soft puffs of air

blowing wisps of hair across my cheek in a matching steady beat

how like me to look for symbolism      to ruin the meaning that

did exist      making it more than it was when in a smaller world

it might have been acceptable      trust me to make a metaphor

from a simple physical response

once and a half

Leslie Greentree

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translated from the Ukrainian written by
Halyna Kruk