after Lucille Clifton
Even in almost-summer, its animal heat,
no central air, a fan failing
at the only job it can do,
I sleep covered in a winter blanket.
A duvet given to me or a comforter
bought on sale to replace another
comforter bought on sale. It’s habit.
A way by which I can fabricate touch. Ease
the chill of isolation, feel comfort in the cul-de-sac
of my shoulder, innocent pressure on my chest.
I don’t wish to make a lover
with cloth; I want something warm
that won’t feel shame lying over me.
At night, anything’s touch can feel secure—
a blanket making the heat hotter, silence
that masks the terrible stories in neighboring homes,
exaggerated hopes on the tattered labels of overnight creams.
I am responsible for my own discomfort. Each night,
I consciously take a blanket and lift its heat-weight
over me. But the weather’s choices, the desires
of my mind, the visible skin
of my loneliness I can’t own;
I had no hand in those.