This is by far one of my favorite poems. I could go on and on about it - but read it first:
I like to touch your tattoos in complete
Darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
Where they are, know by heart the neat
Lines of lightning pulsing just above
Your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
Swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
Twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you
To me, taking you until we’re spent
And quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
The pictures on your skin. They’ll last until
You’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark, but touch them, trying.
See? What did I tell you? AWESOME!
'My First Poem For You' is pretty much a sonnet: rhyme scheme? check! 14 lines? check! the meter fluctuates, but for all intents and purposes, this is a structurally sound sonnet - down to the final reflective couplet.
Kim Addonizio is a TRUE talent; this piece is so precise, but reads so casually and intimately (sensually???) and with such fluidity, you'd never notice how formally it's written on a first reading - and that takes some SERIOUS skill to pull off. But it all works because the structure of the poem is in such direct opposition to the conversational tone and the subject matter.
The speaker obviously has some complex feelings about whoever this "you" character is; she freaks out about the permanency of his tattoos, which she only appreciates and explores in the dark - which I read as her ACTUALLY freaking out about the increasingly serious nature of their relationship. DEEEEEEEEP!
And if you break it down by sentences, its all "I like," "I can't," "I'm sure," "I pull," "I love"... bla bla yadda yadda - and then out of NOWHERE it's not about the speaker any more in the last lines and she finally hits us with "permanence is terrifying" (say whaaaaaaaa?). The last word, "trying" leaves me reeling everytime - she leaves the verb unsatisfied like that - just like her ongoing struggle with her feelings this "you"..... which makes sense because this is the "FIRST" poem for whoever this person is - and probably not the last.
I'm not going to write a PAPER about this poem on my blog - but there are a million reasons to love this poem... above are a few.