mercifulserpent: (Default)
I want to write a love poem for the girls I kissed in seventh grade,
a song for what we did on the floor in the basement

of somebody’s parents’ house, a hymn for what we didn’t say but thought:
That feels good or I like that, when we learned how to open each other’s mouths

how to move our tongues to make somebody moan. We called it practicing, and
one was the boy, and we paired off—maybe six or eight girls—and turned out

the lights and kissed and kissed until we were stoned on kisses, and lifted our
nightgowns or let the straps drop, and, Now you be the boy:

concrete floor, sleeping bag or couch, playroom, game room, train room, laundry.
Linda’s basement was like a boat with booths and portholes

instead of windows. Gloria’s father had a bar downstairs with stools that spun,
plush carpeting. We kissed each other’s throats.

We sucked each other’s breasts, and we left marks, and never spoke of it upstairs
outdoors, in daylight, not once. We did it, and it was

practicing, and slept, sprawled so our legs still locked or crossed, a hand still lost
in someone’s hair . . . and we grew up and hardly mentioned who

the first kiss really was—a girl like us, still sticky with moisturizer we’d
shared in the bathroom. I want to write a song

for that thick silence in the dark, and the first pure thrill of unreluctant desire,
just before we’d made ourselves stop.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Marie Howe
The Promise


In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,

he looked at me as though he couldn't speak, as if
there were a law against it, a membrane he couldn't break.

His silence was what he could not
not do, like our breathing in this world, like our living,

as we do, in time.
And I told him: I'm reading all this Buddhist stuff,

and listen, we don't die when we die. Death is an event,
a threshold we pass through. We go on and on

and into light forever.
And he looked down, and then back up at me. It was the look we'd pass

across the kitchen table when Dad was drunk again and dangerous,
the level look that wants to tell you something,
in a crowded room, something important, and can't.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Someone or something is leaning close to me now
trying to tell me the one true story of my life:

one note,
low as a bass drum, beaten over and over:

It's beginning summer,
and the man I love has forgotten my smell

the cries I made when he touched me, and my laughter
when he picked me up

and carried me, still laughing, and laid me down,

among the scattered daffodils on the dining room table.

And Jane is dead,
and I want to go where she went,
where my brother went,

and whoever it is that whispered to me

when I was a child in my father's bed is come back now:
and I can't stop hearing:
This is the way it is,
the way it always was and will be--

beaten over and over--panicking on street corners,
or crouched in the back of taxicabs,

afraid I'll cry out in jammed traffic, and no one will know me or
know where to bring me.

There is, I almost remember,
another story:

It runs alongside this one like a brook beside a train.
The sparrows know it; the grass rises with it.

The wind moves through the highest tree branches without
seeming to hurt them.

Tell me.
Who was I when I used to call your name?
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Death, The Last Visit - Marie Howe

Hearing a low growl in your throat, you’ll know that it’s started.
It has nothing to ask you. It has only something to say, and
it will speak in your own tongue.

Locking its arms around you, it will hold you as long
as you ever wanted.
Only this time it will be long enough. It will not let go.
Burying your face in its dark shoulder, you’ll smell mud and hair
and water.

You’ll taste your mother’s sour nipple, your favorite salty cock
and swallow a word you thought you’d spit out once and be done with.
Through half-closed eyes you’ll see that its shadow looks like yours,

a perfect fit. You could weep with gratefulness. It will take you
as you like it best, hard and fast as a slap across your face,
or so sweet and slow you’ll scream give it to me give it to me
until it does.

Nothing will ever reach this deep. Nothing will ever clench this hard.
At last (the little girls are clapping, shouting) someone has pulled
the drawstring of your gym bag closed enough and tight. At last

someone has knotted the lace of your shoe so it won’t ever
come undone.
Even as you turn into it, even as you begin to feel yourself stop,
you’ll whistle with amazement between your residual teeth oh jesus

oh sweetheart, oh holy mother, nothing nothing nothing ever felt
this good.
mercifulserpent: (Default)
Prayer | Marie Howe
Someone or something is leaning close to me now
trying to tell me the one true story of my life:

one note,
low as a bass drum, beaten over and over:

It's beginning summer,
and the man I love has forgotten my smell

the cries I made when he touched me, and my laughter
when he picked me up

and carried me, still laughing, and laid me down,
among the scattered daffodils on the dining room table.

And Jane is dead,
                                    
   and I want to go where she went,
where my brother went,

and whoever it is that whispered to me

when I was a child in my father's bed is come back now:
and I can't stop hearing:
                                        This is the way it is,
the way it always was and will be --

beaten over and over -- panicking on street corners,
or crouched in the back of taxicabs,

afraid I'll cry out in jammed traffic, and no one will know me or
know where to bring me.

                                   There is, I almost remember,
another story:

It runs alongside this one like a book beside a train.
The sparrows know it; the grass rises with it.

The wind moves through the highest tree branches without
seeming to hurt them.

Tell me.
Who was I when I used to call your name?
mercifulserpent: (Default)
The Mother

In her early old age the mother’s toenails curl over her toes
so that when she walks across the kitchen floor some click.

The doctor has warned her, for the third time, that her legs will
Ulcerate if she doesn’t rub moisturizer into them so

Unwilling is she to touch her own body or care for it
-the same woman who stood many nights at the foot of the attic stairs

as her husband weaved and stammered up into the room where her
daughter slept
-on the landing, in her bathrobe,

by the laundry chute, unmoving,
like a statue in the children’s game her children play-

and now the soft drone of her daughter’s waking voice, reasoning and
rising, and the first slap

and the scrape of her son’s chair pushed back from his desk,
the air thick now with their separate listening,

and again the girl’s voice, now quietly weeping, and the creak of her bed …
In the game, someone has to touch you to free you

Then you’re human again.

Marie Howe

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