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Tick Season

Fresh again from summer
and its fields of unrepentant grass,
we strip down in the dooryard
of my little house, check each other over
for ticks. By now we have
outlived embarrassment,
though of the naked pastimes,
this one remains the more intimate:
what shapes we make
in the flashlight’s chiaroscuro,
interrogating every mole, every freckle,
before kissing them, an apology
to the innocent for such accusations.
Not often but sometimes I’ll spot one
walking across your wet skin, movement
as misquoted shibboleth. I ferry
the little liar to the fireplace, careful
to burn what might have come
between us. Like you, I do not want this
but I want this. The betrayal
of the struggle to keep still.

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