The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Lee Upton

The Doubter

While wrapping gifts, folding
a sheet of paper, knotting a ribbon,
I think of those I’ve loved who died,
and I think too of doubting Thomas
who put his hand inside
the wound of a man he believed
should not be alive.

To walk beside a man and slip your hand in his side,
the intimacy of it,
a divine body, a mortal body,
did Thomas’s hand return to him

A wound went on a rampage
through a body.
The lit-up places
where the wound traveled—
I once owned a vase like
a wound that wouldn’t heal.
The pattern included open lattice work.
Only good for emptiness or dried flowers.

A wound asks to be cleaned first.
Maybe—I can’t doubt—some misery
has to do with the need
to defend ourselves from the doubting
hands of others—
to keep our doubts, to keep a hand inside
our own wound,
not believing in the wounds of others.




LEE UPTON is the author of books of poetry, fiction, essays, and literary criticism. Her most recent books are Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles from the Cleveland State University Poetry Center (2015), and The Tao of Humiliation: Stories from BOA Editions (2014).



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