Holding the Air Beneath You [poem] by Emari DiGiorgio

There’s the kind of love
in which you cup your chin
in one hand, cradle your ribs with the other.
As if your jaw unhinged and every unsaid

sloshed afire in rising bile.
There’s the kind of love that’s a tightrope
walk between high-rise buildings. Traffic stops
and a crowd gathers to watch you ball heel

the taut line, arms extended
as if holding the air beneath you. I walk
from the back of the parlor to the front,
your long limbs tucked into a suit,

the dark wood box. I’ve seen you asleep
in my own bed, watched your chest rise, a service
elevator delivering your snore up and out of mouth.
I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

Once, we walked into night
and stood in the center of an old bridge,
split a thin joint, breath mixing with tannins
in air, moisture rising from the lake. As if on cue,

clouds tore away from each other
and a mostly full moon spilled light onto our faces,
sent our shadows into dark behind us. We stared
into the quiet, your arms orbiting my waist.

Our bodies most alive in the moments
before they touched, in the wanting
to pull your swelling cock to my hip bone,
my own slick wetness growing, untouched.

I sob down aisle toward your widowed wife.
I’ve no claim to you, just this kind of love
that makes you grip the wheel,
a sharp bend, high beams, a ravine.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

Image by Kenneth Dagenais

Emari DiGiorgio is a recipient of two Vermont Studio Center Residencies, a Sundress Academy of the Arts Residency, a Rivendell Artist Colony Percy Writers Fellowship, and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Her first book The Things a Body Might Become is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in July 2017. She teaches writing at Stockton University and is a visiting Poet-in-the-Schools through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Dodge Foundation.