Before puberty I knew the I: Mowgli, Maris,
Boy shadowing Tarzan; Ethnographer of dirt kingdoms;
Scientist of worm and dandelion blow;
Impresario of The Ant & Beetle Circus; witness to twisting deaths
of caterpillar and moth (placed gently in the web
by hand). After puberty I no longer knew who came
and went within this I but knew a woman
was somehow implicated; somehow a woman carried,
beneath her clothes, a major clue.
Everything I had I gave to seeing through that fabric.
I never believed in the social me—loath to speak,
to intrude—though he did what he could.
On clear nights, frost entered my definition, as did
the language I learned at work with men.
When my father died, his self exploded
invisibly. But I felt particles streak through my body.
I am accumulation, lust, barrels of Seagram's,
memory, a few grains only of selflessness. My children
were made, not begotten. They carry my letter
of recommendation in and beneath the skin–proteins, enzymes,
electrolytes. I have offered it all up for renovation
many times with a smirk and crossed fingers, once in earnest.
Every day I am forgotten, a new man.
Jeffrey Skinner's latest collection of poems, Glaciology, will be published early this fall.
For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click spacerhereyeshyperlinkPoetry SubmissionsSlate reads new poems from Oct. 1 to April 30. Manuscripts sent between May 1 and Sept. 30 will not be considered.To submit poems: Send, as a single attached document, up to three poems of no more than 50 lines each to email@example.com. Use the poet's name for the subject line of the e-mail and for the title of the attachment. We prefer Word documents (.doc or .docx) to PDFs.Please include a brief, professional cover letter, including publication history, in the body of your email. Please limit submissions to one per poet per annual reading period. Simultaneous submissions are OK. Slate no longer accepts poetry submissions by mail. The email address firstname.lastname@example.org is for poetry submissions only (or to notify editors of acceptance elsewhere of a poem under consideration at Slate). Other inquiries, etc., will not be addressed.10000false220061444537PMWednesdayJanJanuary161/4/2006 9:45:37 PM63271989937000000020061444537PMWednesdayJanJanuary161/4/2006 9:45:37 PM632719899370000000.Clickhere to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site.Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.