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A Protocol for Touch "Keep your colors in the box and hands To yourself. If the right hand should offend Cut it off, cast it out; burn It by moonlight or sow it deep in winter Ground, and tremble lest the spring should yield Increase. Say, Tm sorry.' should you touch "Someone without intent, and keep in touch Exactly when beyond the reach of hands. Should a stranger cross your path be quick to yield; The slightest graze of eyes just might offend. In every season clothe yourself in winter. Remember: better to marry than to burn." And those who didn't marry often burned. Strong tongues of fire like no lover's touch. How much relief in vivid scenes of winter— Ice-covered ponds, sleigh rides, and frozen hands? Only a child, unrecognized as fiend, No man demanding what she cannot yield. Year after year he plants but nothing yields; His palms begin to itch and then to burn. Abundance mocks him, extravagance offends. If he could zap her with his Midas touch, He would expose the trick, the sleight of hand, Make it his own, and even bear in winter. In time, she will surrender to his winter, No longer fight the disappearing, yield Her body piece by piece starting with hands Mute and useless inside gloves. No burn Of sterile priestly fire would ever touch Her who studied absence not to offend. "Withhold comfort for this too might offend. Shroud rude hands in pockets, gloves in winter. Make lists of those you can and cannot touch. Guard against unwarranted affection. Yield To fear alone. To burn within is to burn Without. Armed with eyes; avoid the risks of hands." 162 Often she yields her gaze not to offend. Still, sometimes, inside her winter burns, And small worlds are clothed in fire by her hands' touch. Constance Merritt 163 ...


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pp. 162-163
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