catch me if you canlimb-tangled, sweat-rank, they speak in whispers:
a haze of wedding white mosquito netting
lies across their vision, swelling belly, his hand
pressed against her flesh, legs spreading
to deliver one, two, a dozen -- fecund
explosion, and oh, the joy, the terror; her heart
thumps, hard. it waits only for their readiness.
there are broad bright rooms, towers too,
dream-spires reaching up, high-windowed,
stained crimson cobalt silvered starred
broken, ivy-tressed, rose-thorned, falling
down the stone wood glass walls, to the
lakeshore, the forest verge, the pulsing
beat of a screaming city, feet quick quick
on the summer hot pavement, breaking
fast on a cold morning, chai steaming,
two pairs of hands clasped around
a single cup. the house is infinitely large,
refuses to be bound to a single location.
she laughs, and agrees -- there is no need
to decide right now, he with one hand tracing
a line along her cheek, another pressed
against her heart, that infinite expanse --
no end to her love, so why should
there be limits at all? he says, i want
to live forever in your arms. as quick
as breath, their doom spoken, aloud.
one day they will die, will rot; each
day she wakes, aware of the body's new
creakings, the encroaching layers of flesh,
the hardening habits of mind, practice
giving rise to both rigidity and skill. she
does not regret the years, she is calmer,
more joyful with every passing breath, eager
to see what comes next, what possibilities
open (her thighs, her arms, her heart)
when only forty, thirty, twenty years
are left to you. she does not know it yet,
but this is why she will leave him, in the end.
mortality does not frighten her, and he,
he is small and hurt and terrified, howling
into the unforgiving darkness,
lost and lost and lost.
Written in response to a story by Benjamin Rosenbaum, for Frank Wu's Exquisite Corpuscle project, to be included in a forthcoming anthology, reprinted by kind permission.