“...because in the dying world it was set burning.”
We are not making love but
all night long we hug each other.
Your face under my chin is two brown
thoughts with no right name, but opens to
eyes when my beard is brushing you.
The last line of the album playing
is Joan Armatrading’s existential stuff,
we had fun while it lasted.
You inch your head up toward mine
where your eyes brighten, intense,
as though I were observer and you
a doppled source. In the blue light
in the air we suddenly leave our selves
and watch two salt-starved bodies
lick the sweat from each others’ lips.
When the one mosquito in the night
comes toward our breathing, the pitch
of its buzz turns higher
till it’s fat like this blue room
and burning on both of us;
now it dies like a siren passing
down a street, the color of blood.
I pull the blanket over our heads
about to despair because I think
everything intense is dying, but you,
you, even asleep, hold onto all
you think I am, more than I think,
so intensely you can feel me
hugging back where I have gone.
From Across the Mutual Landscape (Graywolf Press, 1984). Copyright © 1984 by Christopher GIlbert. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 14, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets with permission of The Permissions Company inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press.
Words are loyal.
Whatever they name they take the side of.
As the word courage will afterward grip just as well
the frightened girl soldier who stands on one side of barbed wire,
the frightened boy soldier who stands on the other.
Death’s clay, they look at each other with wide-open eyes.
And words—that love peace, love gossip—refuse to condemn them.
from Ledger (Knopf, 2020); first appeared in Plume. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.