There’s your shoulders
or your neck—
there’s your jaw or
your mouth—I greet them
in order—you reply
in kind—I remember fewer
and fewer words—there’s
your tongue or your
teeth—our language lost
but so useful, so useful—
and right, for a second,
so right—I remember again,
your shoulders—I find them
at work, lifting
then prone—I fit my hands
to the muscle under
the blades—so alert, oh
god, and moving—
I could labor my whole life
under that span—my palms
flat against it—my body
underneath, drawing
from its drive—it’s surely wrong
to call this aching
grace—it’s wrong to call it grace—
but I need it, so
I name it—then
I take it, and I take it—


Rachel Mennies is the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, winner of the 2013 Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry, and the chapbook No Silence in the Fields. Her poetry has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Drunken Boat, The Journal, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere, and has been reprinted at Poetry Daily. Mennies teaches writing at Carnegie Mellon University and serves as a member of AGNI’s editorial staff.