Handshakes

Handshakes

We take each other in by drawing each other out. 
The motley rags yoked up our sleeves are bundled near
the heart: so much to give.  A limp-wristed handshake.    
Bloodless disembowelments, snip, eviscerations; we drip 

intimations in pitch perfect voices. We need a lot from
one another, but nothing extra. No flourish in the signature,
no exclamation marks.  Tongues coated white with all the times
of day, we spit each other out like sour pips. We can’t

even help our friends. Not like this. Nobody can risk
unwanted growth in time of  shift.  Or loss of sleep.
Or heart-sickness. We’re all going to different places, 
and you don’t accept gifts in line at Customs. You can’t

accept gifts, period, or process claims under these conditions.
Trust does not make economic sense. Even courtesy
provokes us, makes us wry.  Cotton-mouthed, we drain
our Nalgene thermoses—bisphenol savvy, cyanide wise.

Originally from Shediac, N.B., Jennifer Houle lives and writes in Fredericton.  Her poems have appeared in numerous Canadian magazines including The Fiddlehead, Arc, Prairie Fire, CV2, Carousel, Room, and most recently in Dandelion.  She was the recipient of the 2010 Alfred G. Bailey prize for poetry and the 2009 winner of the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry prize.