A Can of Worms
"Isn't sex over-rated?" a long ago husband
writes to ask. "Except, of course," he adds,
"what we shared in the sixties." Enter
Hieronymus Bosch with his can of worms.
Twisted trees shoot up around me and fill
with monkeys; the ones riding my back chatter
and screech. A fountain of acid erupts from the earth;
grass sprouts tongues and the edges of flaming
dragon's teeth scorch my inner thighs.
I remember honey bright kisses,
fists and bruises, languid touches
but mostly terror, long alleyways, hiding
under bushes and inside trashcans full
of maggots. Always, he found me, dragged me
out by the hair and hit me, painted me
into canvases with leering eternity signs
between waves of fire and mustard.
Always grinning. He dressed me and stood
me by the highway, thumb out (or in my mouth),
while he hid in the bushes, waiting for a ride.
He forbid my descent into undersea canyons,
beam probing the coelacanths, if my mermaid
laughter wasn't on his schedule of simultaneity,
tantric song and knives balanced on his nipples.
Malevolent demon bats, keepers of eternal darkness,
fluttered around us, roosted in the shadows
and threatened to engulf us. We argued
about who had called them. He insisted I did,
and of course, I did.
Now, when I dive through the skin-nets of their wings,
they dissolve in veils, and I am home in the lychnis,
catchfly and moonflower. I sit among garter snakes
and mother stones, sun soft on my face. No
longer do I fall endlessly into darkness, as I did
in his arms. I walk down a different path. No
man lives beside me, no sex shatters me. No
landmines, no torn talons, only a vow of chastity,
cardinal babies and their red-beaked parents
in the sweet syringe, and black raspberries,
with their small thorns, ripening outside my door.
Mary Stebbins Taitt
090404-1219-3a, 990705-2f, 990621-1st, originally called "Underrated" L
from the Desire 6 Ms