When I want to know how I’m feeling
I place my hands on the surface of my body
and move them around,
it is tender the way it always is—
I’m trying to be careful
in order to feel more carefully,
checking in with my feelings,
how are you feeling?
Are you feeling okay?
You don’t want to have bad feelings,
or a feeling that is a pointless or worthless feeling,
or the kind of helpless feeling you have when you don’t even feel like yourself,
as if you’re having somebody else’s feelings—
you’re not even sure if it’s confusing or if you’re just being inclusive,
as in Lonely Avenue,
songs of Ben Folds,
Nick Hornby words,
and photographs by Joel Meyerowitz
after the song Lonely Avenue first performed by Ray Charles.
Of course, you want your feelings to get along together,
to be comfortable with each other,
although there are also times when you don’t even know how you feel,
or if you’re feeling anything,
you’re not even sure what it feels like to feel something—
when this happens I lay my hands on my body and move them across the surface
in the sort of shallow arc a jumprope makes,
it feels a little swollen,
as if there’s something under the surface that’s pressing on the surface,
buried like a fossil or relic waiting to be brought up on Lonely Avenue,
I could cry, I could cry, I could cry.
Peter Leight previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, FIELD, Beloit Poetry Review, Raritan, Matter, and other magazines.