How to Hug
By Susie Maguire

First, please get close. No, no,
closer than that; close enough
to feel the rush of my blood
through skin, shirt, shirt, and skin;
to feel when buttons click and slide
from neck to groin, when seams
meet, as deep human heat travels,
as particles adhere, matter fuses.

Put one arm around my back, where
the ribs rise and fall; the other hand
laid flat against spine; tuck your chin
into my neck, slide ear to ear; there.
Squeeze, gently, until your lungs wheeze,
till knees knock, press in, until the world
slows in its dizzying spin and hold.

And hold.


Now, as I breathe, you breathe,
when my heart slows, yours slows;
when I move, you move too. Eyes
closed, listen to the beat-beat of our
proximity; count to ten, and then
– only if you’re ready – let go.

That’s how to hug.

from How to Hug (Mariscat Press: 2009)