Almost Naked

By Hadley Hury

We spend our first years

learning to dress ourselves,

as in, look who put his shoes on

all by himself, or

what a big girl,

all those buttons!

After we discovered

that we couldn’t judge a book by its cover,

and that everyone didn’t always

mean what they said,

and that we would never,

as we once wanted, be a character in a book,

we sacrificed our innocence before

it turned out to have been

no better than our ignorance.

We still try things on:

taking time to read more cookbooks,

learning to assemble electronic devices without

existential despair and hurled instruction manuals,

trying to love the moronic neighbor down the road

with his guns and hysterical dogs,

looking back to see

not a life of losses and discards

but a fond trail of furnishings outgrown.

It’s not that we may not have

the occasional embarrassment

over things that we have done

(the unaccustomed earring still on

as we crawl into bed),

and the things we have left undone

(the barn door,

as we stroll into the cocktail party),

It’s just that now

some new sort of credulity beckons,

like that first Christmas morning

after we knew,

and yet had to walk on anyway,

toward the tree,

across a now grotesquely foreshortened living room,

remembering the perfectly contained skin

of our footed pajamas just a year before,

the first taste of something we’d later call

metaphor rising bitter in our mouths.

We still have our

baffled need to trust,

but more and more, we learn

to take things off,

to undress ourselves–

more disposed to meet,

almost naked,

the darkness and

the day.

___

Hadley Hury has published a novel (2003), a collection of stories (2007), and his short fiction and poetry have appeared in Colorado Review, Green Mountains Review, The Avatar Review, and Image.


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