BY D. R. JAMES
Copyright is held by the author. The first poem was previously published in A Little Instability Without Birds (Finishing Line Press, 2006). The second poem was previously published in Poetry Quarterly.
This Time Right from the Start
Later, after I’ve surely stopped thinking about her
in the form of more than every other fleeting focus
all my working days and goofy nights – pick up the kids,
her, this student’s murky thesis, her, that student’s
mother’s cancer, her, taxes due, her, call her, her,
be with her now, always, her, will I always be with her?
Her! — will it be because, like the few other drifting
and single significant others, she, too, will have gone,
moved on, or I’ll have moved on, again, perhaps another
ambush I can’t imagine? Or because, together, content,
I will no longer have to wonder, its relaxed advantage
the unselfconscious vocabulary of forever: partner,
ease, familiar-but-still-thrilling body, whose cleansed or
sweaty fragrance remains the perfect one? And will I miss
this kissing, this current state of sensory inundation,
of cognitive befuddlement — this state of downright awe?
This Time Sixteen Years Later
Yes, I miss that downright awe, that energy
now conserved for the duration, the more sober
though no less precarious rest of our lives.
All of our maybe’s have now turned certain,
knowing we know each other so well we will
never know enough. Our closets — no longer
metaphors storing torrid aching for carnal
satisfaction, passions ogling vague horizons —
have become real closets, packed with the real
materiel for the everyday. Every night
we drift off, my front shoring her backside,
comfortably conforming to each other’s surest
soul. So, what then of that all-enthralling
infatuation? In spite of the relaxed
advantage of partnership, the solace
of a more or less forever contentment,
such fascination has barely subsided:
the fragrant safety of her familiar yet still
thrilling body still induces that cognitive
befuddlement, still produces wave upon wave
of that sensuous — that sweatening — inundation.