And I didn’t turn my gaze downward.

from Stupid Hope by Jason Shinder (1955-2008).

The Change

Your unmistakable breasts, plain, finely wrinkled, strained

but not crushed. You were no longer embarrassed to be naked
each time you undressed. And I didn’t turn my gaze downward.

All your beautifulness, despite the loose skin hanging inches
from your bones. And the unshaven legs.

You weren’t thinking you could rest against me either, even

when you tried. Thank you, mother. You let me see you unprotected,
full of doubt, miserable. So I could know you were still alive,

so I could know what loving someone looked like.