By Gale Acuff
When I return from work I hang my clothes
on hooks or pegs or any handy doorknobs,
or sometimes drape a jacket or a shirt
over a chair, or flat across the desk.
And I am nearly naked, pretty worn,
standing in the center of the room
and looking to the mirror for my flesh
to reaffirm the nudeness born of blood.
I see my mother and my father there,
remember what I was not there to know,
that, naked under sheets, and wrapped in dark,
they fashioned what of me they only dreamed.
I wonder if, before they gave me name,
they knew that I was barely laid to rest.
I rose within my father’s groin, I sank
into my mother’s cleft, before they loved
each other, before skin took on skin
the night I was conceived and they were born.
Here, before my self of glass, I am
diapered in a heritage of future,
my clothes, no longer clothes, put off
to locate their own bones or retake mine
next morning, if we can wait that long.
And while I rest they keep my family warm.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and many other journals. He has taught English courses in the United States, China and Palestine, and authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. “Conception” originally appeared in Divine Providence 4 and then in the chapbook Buffalo Nickel.