Because one day I grew so bored
with Lucretius, I fell in love
with the one object that seemed to be stationary,
the sleeping kid two rows up,
the appealing squalor of his drooping socks.
While the author of De Rerum Natura was making fun
of those who fear the steep way and lose the truth,
I was studying the unruly hairs on Peter Diamond’s right leg.
Titus Lucretius Caro labored, dactyl by dactyl
to convince our Latin IV class of the atomic
composition of smoke and dew,
and I tried to make sense of a boy’s ankles,
the calves’ intriguing
resiliency, the integrity to the shank,
the solid geometry of my classmate’s body.
Light falling through blinds,
a bee flinging itself into a flower,
a seemingly infinite set of texts
to translate and now this particular configuration of atoms
who was given a name at birth,
Peter Diamond, and sat two rows in front of me,
his long arms, his legs that like Lucretius’s hexameters
seemed to go on forever, all this hurly-burly
of matter that had the goodness to settle
long enough to make a body
so fascinating it got me
through fifty-five minutes
of the nature of things.
Your Father Sunbathing
Sundays, your father climbs out a window onto the roof, looking for somewhere there are no women, nothing else to do but undress, lie down and open his arms wide, spread his legs and make an X, a target for the sun to concentrate all its energies on, the groin, the seat of the soul, the hairy, breathing sac, and your father summoning all the light he can, his exhaustion heroic, a warrior's. What if you follow, quiet as the light, kneel beside him, intimate as the sun, trace his calves, his ankle's spidery veins, even his tired feet cocked to one side? Like someone blind, you want to read the line of your father's jaw, the story of his mouth, your mouth on his shoulders, his belly--lightly as you'd kiss a flower, brushing your lips across your father's penis, its taste like petals, wet grass, wax candy, old dolls. Like women at the cross who gather the crucified into their arms, stroking a miracle, not to take the wound away but to know what suffering really is. Mary, Mary Magdelene. It seems so natural, the mouth pressing against all it's drawn to.