An hour or two in bed—my family history.
I am caught in your act—like those cameras
planted in hotel rooms to catch
politicians at illicit sex,
I am the evidence of your kisses,
the proof of acts best unrecorded,
the reel of film replaying
the one domestic moment we three shared—
you begetting and begetting me.

Hence, the stigma of the illegitimate
in whom father and mother
are left coupling forever
so the child appears,
as it were, impaired,
conclusive proof of the social fear
that love outlasts lovers, and is eternal.
We bastards know it.
Trapped here in the love
that used a man and woman
as its instruments, it seems clear
that when the weather at last
turns radioactive,
and the temperature vaults
past boiling point
when the earth slips from the universe
like a hand from a black glove,
love will rush into the vacuum—
and caress it.


Caught as I was in the spokes of your kissing,
I know the world as a web of unions
that words are the mating of syllables
that piano keys breed
as they lie beside each other,
that scissors are men and women;
Two blades, they cut through anything
which obstructs their joining.


Mother and Father,
lavish and careless
you left kisses everywhere
on the sheets on the glasses
on the walls on the night—
before you knew kisses were permanent.
One settled on my face,
and trembles there—
my mouth its imprint.

This Issue

April 26, 1984