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How Many Times?, a poem by Norbert Krapf

How Many Times?
by Norbert Krapf

How many times does the touch
of other people stay with us 
in the tissue of our flesh,
as memory that comes alive,

return when another touch
comes calling to draw us out
of where we are back into
another time or place:

that priest who went wrong
in what he did because
he needed something he knew
he should not take but could not

stop himself from having,
maybe a relative who wanted
to make us feel good about ourselves
and did know where to stop,

that first girl who put a fingertip
on the place that rose with a thrill
in response to the tingling electricity
of her warm and lush sensuality?

All still alive in us, decades later,
no matter how much our flesh
shifts and declines, still present
in how our spirit rises and falls.

Bio: Norbert Krapf, former Indiana Poet Laureate, is a Jasper, Indiana, native who lives in downtown Indianapolis. His most recent books are Catholic Boy Blues (2014) and Shrinking the Monster: Healing the Wounds of Our Abuse, a prose memoir forthcoming in fall, 2016. He held a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council Indianapolis (2011-12) and received a Glick Indiana Author Award (2014).