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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Skin Deep; Sound; Falling: Lilith to Adam

By: Lara Merlin

Skin Deep

I know you only 

as surface,

what touches me back 

when I touch you.

You like the sound of that,

the play of your skin on mine

like the two legs of the cricket —

and I like sound,

rolling over me in waves.

Here, it’s all vibration,

the creaking springs, the breathing

and the restlessness.

We are plumbing vanity,

skimming the top of the pond,

kissing the mirror.

It’s clear already

there is nothing here for us.

For tonight, that’s enough.

Really, what’s between us

is mainly friction.

Some instinct,

like an insect love song,

keeps us up late into the night,

this heat hotter

than the summer air.

And we’d like it to go on —

the summer, the crickets and the night —

but we know it won’t.


There are many arguments for not

being wise,

and I like the sound of them.

Sometimes I let them fill my mouth, caress

them with the edge of my tongue

or taste them full in the hollow

of my throat.

You make me want to be reckless.

But you do not

make me forget all I know

(like a song I wrote myself)

by heart.

We could make each other feel 

open wide and locked out


I know what not to do 

with you.

It’s not like I haven’t 

before walked up to the door,

lightly run my fingertips

upon the knob,

and then walked away.

There are things that can be learned,

and I have learned.

But there are other things 

you must make up 

as you go along,

like a new song that lingers sometimes

along the curves of my lips,

or deep in the muscles of my thighs,

and other times runs ahead

of me.

up to the door —

a song full of the sound

of knocking. 

Falling: Lilith to Adam

There have been many

men before,

but still, somehow,

you are the first man,

the only man,

the one with an open hand.

I have spent a lifetime waiting 

for angels,

but remembering the look

in your eyes,

I would rather have a man.

Don’t you know already, joyfully

I would follow you

in and out

of any garden?

Your hold on me spins

me around

like a surprised moon.

I fold my wings

around me

against the rush of voices. 

With a word,

I could again be off


but I stay right here.

If you push me away now,

I fear I will become demon

to you,

mine the eyes

that follow you

in the dark.

Are you still afraid 

of the fall

you know will come?

I can’t help you with that.

You’ll find your own way down.

But I can say what I know

of falling —

the taste of the wind,

the starlight

and the howl.

Gravity pulls

us all the way down.

O jubilance of fingers and bone —

smell of loam and leaf —

water cold and clear as ice, yet flowing.

Man, you are the forgetting of wings,

and here I go crashing

toward earth

with no thought of saving myself,

with no thought 

but the thrill

and will you let me go on

falling into you?


Lara Merlin is an Assistant Professor of English at Vaughn College. She earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University. Her academic research explores representations of the raced and gendered body in post-9/11 American literature and culture. She is also writing a magical realist first novel, from which this piece is excerpted. She plans as her next project to study the art of writing an amusing author bio. She is a member of the Sound Shore Writers' Group, and lives in Westchester with her partner and son.


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