Between Skin

by Cameron Barnett

After John Straley 

Suppose I say the word “autumn,” and write
“satchel” on a small blank notecard, lick it
closed in an envelope, and mail it to you.
As you open it, standing alone in your cold
kitchen, you recall crimson leaves crunching

under our feet, the smell of the steep city trail,
how we split clammy palms long enough
for a love note to slip beneath the red-patched flap
of your bag, the corners of your grin pinned back
with hesitation, our shoes kicking up the dirt.
Or would you remember one evening that winter:

over heated pots, your mother’s steady stirring;
bag in hand, the draw of your wrist unzipping,
my notes pouring onto the table, the pinch of
sleeve and skin in the zipper teeth, your mother’s
sparrow-eye catching you flush-faced, the sigh
and swift spurn of her snatching the red leather?

I know I am hard to remember sometimes,
especially when the morning finds you
only mostly clothed, blushing by the sink
with your coffee and a simple card reading
“satchel.” Just think of it as a missed kiss,
and that sting at the wrist, the tug between skin
and bone is the way I remember you, too.



Cameron Barnett holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was poetry editor for Hot Metal Bridge, and co-coordinator of Pitt’s Speakeasy Reading Series. He currently is an associate poetry editor for Pittsburgh Poetry Review. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Lines + Stars, The Minnesota Review, Ghost Town, and TriQuarterly.