She is about to come. This time, they are sitting up, joined below the belly, feet cupped like sleek hands praying at the base of each other’s spines. And when something lifts within her toward a light she’s sure, once again, she can’t bear, she opens her eyes and sees his face is turned away, one arm behind him, hands splayed palm down on the mattress, to brace himself so he can lever his hips, touch with the bright tip the innermost spot. And she finds she can’t bear it— not his beautiful neck, stretched and corded, not his hair fallen to one side like beach grass, not the curved wing of his ear, washed thin with daylight, deep pink of the inner body— what she can’t bear is that she can’t see his face, not that she thinks this exactly—she is rocking and breathing—it’s more her body’s though, opening, as it is, into its own sheer truth. So that when her hand lifts of its own violation and slaps him, twice on the chest, on that pad of muscled flesh just above the nipple, slaps him twice, fast, like a nursing child trying to get a mother’s attention, she’s startled by the sound, though when he turns his face to hers— which is what her body wants, his eyes pulled open, as if she had bitten— she does reach out and bite him, on the shoulder, not hard, but with the power infants have over those who have borne them, tied as they are to the body, and so, tied to the pleasure, the exquisite pain of this world. And when she lifts her face he sees where she’s gone, knows she can’t speak, is traveling toward something essential, toward the core of her need, so he simply watches, steadily, with an animal calm as she arches and screams, watches the face that, if she could see it, she would never let him see.
—And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday, And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday— When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed, Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon Looking off down the long street To nowhere, Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why? And if-Monday-never-had-to-come— When you have forgotten that, I say, And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell, And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang; And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner, That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles Or chicken and rice And salad and rye bread and tea And chocolate chip cookies— I say, when you have forgotten that, When you have forgotten my little presentiment That the war would be over before they got to you; And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed, And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end Bright bedclothes, Then gently folded into each other— When you have, I say, forgotten all that, Then you may tell, Then I may believe You have forgotten me well.
I want you and you are not here. I pause in this garden, breathing the colour thought is before language into still air. Even your name is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer than the words I have you say you said before.
Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me with a look, standing here whilst cool late light dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong, but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away, inventing love, until the calls of nightjars interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain, into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.
When I was nine, my father sliced his knee With a chainsaw. But he let himself bleed And finished cutting down one more tree Before his boss drove him to EMERGENCY. Late that night, stoned on morphine and beer, My father needed my help to steer His pickup into the woods. “Watch for deer,” My father said. “Those things just appear Like magic.” It was an Indian summer And we drove through warm rain and thunder, Until we found that chainsaw, lying under The fallen pine. Then I watched, with wonder, As my father, shotgun-rich and impulse-poor, Blasted that chainsaw dead. “What was that for?” I asked. “Son,” my father said. “Here’s the score. Once a thing tastes blood, it will come for more.”