"Together" by Willem Haenraets, original acrylic

click to enlarge

The one she holds tonight
is not the right one.
She does not give herself to him
even as he presses into her hesitation.
This is a silent stranger
who covets his own necessity,
and avoids the conversation in her eyes.
He waits for a sweet struggle
before the stillness,
but there is no struggle.
Only a quiver,
and an awkward wondering
if it is really finished.

Staring into the corner of the room,
she doesn’t move.
The past swipes at her
like a cat’s paw under the door.
She listens to the music of another man,
who spoke softer and waited for her longer;
who ran the length of her leg
with his tongue before finding her,
then pressed his breathing,
breath to breath with hers.

The one she is with now turns uneasily.
His night too has many rooms.
He runs back to the flash-flood last March,
wading across the courtyard in foot-deep water.
He too remembers someone else,
how he tossed her over his shoulder,
tightening his hands
around her struggle and delight.
“Put me down,” she said, “I’m too old for this.”
And him putting her down, putting her down.

For these lovers
whose touches never touch the other,
there is some harbor in this night.
These two who in a single hour
know all they’ll ever know
or really want to know about the other.
Two mourners who meet while placing flowers
on separate memories.

Copyright © 2000 Susan Dane • All rights reserved.
Selection from GOOD-BYE TO WHITE KNIGHTS and other moving vehicles—I. Gone the Clear Blue.
Painting: “Together” by Willem Haenraets, original acrylic.