We two

How come every time I kiss your neck
you smell like the wind?
how come every time I kiss your neck
you smell like the wind–
the outdoors as if you were born there and come home
each time you open the doors, kissed by sun and shower
every time you walk barefoot up the walk

Your hair hanging over my face
makes me think of corn silk
and I want to kiss your ear, every time
smelling the earth in your hair, and
the world I have not traveled much of yet
has left a map across your cheeks
and over your nose, which I know
will wrinkle as you read these words

Don’t be unkind–like lightning–when
I don’t translate it well; don’t ask too many questions, please
I already don’t feel your heart–
it stopped when you read the fourth line, when
you felt my lips on your neck and an earthquake rumbled under us
when I bit your flesh there, when I bit you
as sure as you are sulking

How come we speak two languages when we connect in space? Why
do I break orbit when I try to plug you into my psyche, tell me
why is it impossible to fully be one on this sphere–
us here, we there–the wind and rain in your skin and your hair, tell me
why can we not be one like weather and ocean
and the stars and the air

How come–


10 thoughts on “We two

  1. This poem moves me in contradictory directions. What stands out the most for me is

    the world I have not traveled much of yet
    has left a map across your cheeks

    But the result of this imbalance of experience is less than happy.

    I will have to read this poem again later.


      1. The voice recording is mesmerizing. I listened to it twice, the second time with an accidental sitar accompaniment.

        My reading (or misreading) of your poem focused on the stanza containing the map, which I’ve already mentioned. It suggested to me an older man and a younger woman and put me in mind of the Philip Whalen poem “The Same Old Jazz,” which contains the following stanza:

        Water glugs in the drain
        A strange girl scours herself with my tired old towels
        I think of her body & stop writing
        To admire my own, some of her beauty rubbed off on me
        Now some of my ugliness, some of my age
        Whirls down the bathroom drain.

        The stanza suggests a symbiotic relationship between an older man and younger woman, at least from the point of view of the man, and it seems positive in tone.

        Your poem, written from the woman’s perspective, is more emotionally complex. When the (presumptive) man comes home from the outside, it’s almost as though the woman, whiffing the scent of the outside world on his clothes and body, catches the aroma of another woman and is jealous. Their different amounts of experience create a feeling of imbalance and incompleteness, at least from the perspective of the woman.

        I think your poem is a fitting complement to Whalen’s. His is innocent, perhaps containing a certain male complacency (you could even criticize the protagonist as a kind of cheerful vampire, if you were so inclined). Yours is more worldly.

        I like that there are two ways to view (what I take to be) the same situation. (Or maybe your poem suggests that the girl in the Whalen poem doesn’t really get anything out of the encounter.)

        Of course, the above still only amounts to my two cents, but I did find your poem very thought-provoking.


      2. I took my time to reply to your comment, because I found your analysis so interesting. Perhaps I wanted to search my mind to see if it were true. Much of what you said is on the nose, at least in spirit.
        The main difference is that she is not jealous of another woman, but of his freedom to run.
        She idealizes the two becoming as one, not merely bodily, but spiritually, and he comes in and is content and falls asleep in his contentment, and she lies awake, frustrated, and unable to speak of it. But still fully devoted to him alone.

        I think I need to be reading Philip Whalen. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a poem whose stark beauty freezes the glide of eyes midway. The rover coming in with the smell of the sun and the wind and earth in all its tenderness, and the lover hungrily gleaning the richness spread all over. Then the rhymes slip into dissent and warmth fizzles away with the coolness of the rover. The stopping of hearts is palpable, as it were. The imagery is apt and rich.


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