Indian Head Massage

Kathleen McCracken

Northern Ireland

After I have travelled your scalp
for twenty-two and a half minutes

dissolving the knots
smoothing the cramped

furrows of pain
you ask me what I think about

when I stroke your brows
and press your temples

what kind of film’s rolling
while I map the lines and ridges

of nose and cheek and jaw
so I try to tell you what it’s like

to skim the reaches of the Rio Grande
surf the snakebacked Mississippi

float for days above
the red banks of the Cimmaron.

There are words for this,
a poetry —

maps, moving pictures, postcards
a Polaroid or two

but isn’t it the body’s wont
to brush your forearm

where there is no tattoo, no scar
no blemish at all —

let my resting index finger
describe how it is to be me

giving you Indian head massage
in a farmhouse

on the frozen prairie east of Longview
one morning in March

seven weeks before
the first thaws begin.

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Kathleen McCracken is a Guest Writer for Panorama. She has been published in the Malahat Review, Poetry Ireland, and Exile Quarterly, among others.