portion of the artwork for Lorrie Ness's poetry

Why I Lay Hands
Lorrie Ness

In algebra we learned laws.
Multiplying a positive and a negative number
yields a negative.

This applies to a drop of water.
spiraling through whisky—

Unlocking the char of oak barrel,
sliding a felled forest over the rim,
onto the tongue. At last,

This applies to your voice.

Once supple and strong like green wood. Now breathy—
wet tinder vaporizing, like a wisp of steam
roping out over coffee.

Does it apply to my reflection?

The mirror on paneled walls. A chain lamp,
greasing the bathroom with its yellow shade. The sink—
an avocado depression.

The décor needs a facelift,
but my smile is warm and young within the vintage frame.
Proof that a positive can coax a negative
to drop its sign.

                                                                I have broken the law.

I am fugitive beside your bed,
pressing my hands to your chest. Multiplying.
(my healthy palms)( − your places of hurt).
Certain of my magic.

Certain of my magic.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 54 | Fall/Winter 2019