Little Design

after Li-Young Lee

I painted my lover
on a lake.
Since then, the fish
bathe her every morning
and slide slippers on her
feet every night.

I painted my lover on a glacier.
Since then, my gloves
are always on,
and all the snow
has become a gallery
whose exhibits are the evenings,
whose plinths
stand unwavering. Sometimes
I tip them over
on purpose
for a chance to exhume the shards.

I painted my lover
under my sternum.
Now she courses through me,
strange ink, little calligraphy
stroke, brilliant well of pitch-black.

A vast constellation-free night
to dip the quill of a tongue into.

Jamaal May‘s first collection of poems, Hum, won the 2012 Beatrice Hawley Award and was published by Alice James Books. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, The Believer and Best American Poetry 2014, among many other places. With Tarfia Faizullah he co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series.