Print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861

How Do You Walk?

How do you walk? You walk into my arms.
Into my kiss, into the eye of my life’s storm.
You walk (all similes are silly in my love for you)
You walk as if you were carrying the Taj Mahal.
Your neck is like a Watusi woman towering above the grasses
of your tigerish clothes.
Your tribal shoulders where my fingers close and feed and my lips graze
like sheep-crazed shepherds.
You walk in anger and in glorious pride as if you had lost a brilliant
naval battle.
Your cut smile belies your perspicuous eyes,
Your earrings tremble and your breasts rise like waves of liquid in your
coming toward me.
Your hips powerful and civilized make idiots of willow trees plying the
prairie winds,
You carry your hard-soft hands as if they were not yours but mine.
Is it your long proud legs that carry you into my vision like rhyme?
You walk as if you were carrying a love-child,
You walk as if you were marrying me,
And your sensitive head turns slightly side to side
As not to see the lovely commotion of your passing,
Where you have come from but only where you are going.
Where are you going? You are going into your beauty
And it is I who am opening all the doors as you pass
From room to room of your life till you walk to my grave.

–Karl Shapiro