Debra Shirley

At the Hands of a Poet

Neruda heats me up with “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” But which does the poet love more: his lover, or his words? To be loved by a poet is to be pulled apart like a roast chicken, licked clean to the bone. Lovers of poets feed the insatiable, letting as much blood as they are able to and still survive. Under the longing gaze of those who covet their place, the lovers of poets are pale and silent. So much bruised fruit, so many crushed petals.

Debra Shirley is director of afterschool and summer arts programming at two elementary schools and teaches writing at the Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities. Her work has been included or is forthcoming in The Cortland Review, Margie Review: The American Journal of Poetry, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Main Street Rag, Tar River Poetry and the Playwright's Showcase of the Western Region.