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How the Last Act Begins

ISSUE:  Autumn 1998

The trouble with you is you’re not
loving enough.
A drastic
summons, a trumpet of
hard last words.

I’m dry as a biscuit
but somehow a breast of mine
stiffens, unbuttons
and offers itself. Is that
what you want?

Now your body’s in bed again, crying
that it can’t fall asleep.
I forget what to feel, but I’ll do
what I’m trained to do:
go barefoot, make the children
take off their shoes. You require
absolute silence.

The mind thinks “lemon” and the tongue
puckers. But what about the woman
who painted a tiger on the wall so real
it scared her out of the house?

I’m not making this up:
the three of us on tiptoe, the shades
down, the house darkened, and you
center-stage, wearing
that shiny black satin eye-mask.


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