Nov 14

Just after (a truncated sestina)


And maybe this is why our grandparents 

had such romantic lives, always straining

for a last glance, last touch after the kiss

but before the inevitable, requisite parting.

No sleepovers; no indulgence.


Or maybe I’m the one indulging

in some romantic version of parents,

ignoring my own, always parting—

staying together an impossible strain

on a muscle, a wound left unkissed.


It’s the moonlight I want, the kiss

that leaves no question about indulgence,

when your blood contracts a new strain

of desire, a disease your grandparents

warned about from hospital beds, before departing.


But I’m of this generation, which shuns parting,

where first dates turn us into parents,

sheets thick and dull with past indulgence.

Rush in to see doctor; leave the waiting room of kisses;

strip down clinical, lose the mystery, the strain.


And so I am tossed in a different boat, sails straining

towards and against the wind, a two-parter,

sun and rain, kiss and no kiss.

The desire to be rebuffed, to compress indulgence

into a slow burn, desire worthy of grandparents.


Find me a new strain of indulgence—

something for the heart, the deadly part of any kiss.

You know it’s good when you’ll never tell—

not even from a hospital bed as a grandparent.