Friday, March 6, 2009

Poetry Friday - We seem ungainly, yes

We seem ungainly, yes; but whales embrace,
and in their element where side by side
they court with tenderness and weightless grace,
they wear their massive bulks with joy and pride.
Cast out on land, love falls from grace: there meat
couples with gasping meat, monstrosity
conjoins with gross monstrosity, and heat
shrivels the heart with thirst for ecstasy.
But in the water love is cool as shade,
and whales embrace while leaping into air
brief as a gasp, and courting hippos wade
in pairs. Our parents touched each other where
they told us only animals would touch.
We need feel no disgrace compared with such.

This poem is also from 1977 or so. At times I titled it "Homosexuality," but since I have consistently waffled and flipflopped on that matter, I'm leaving it untitled here. I'm not sure it is specifically about homosexuality, since the ambivalence about sex and the body it describes is not limited to us queers, though we perhaps feel torn by it more than straights. (But now I'm tempted to add the title anyway. There's no reason why straight readers couldn't identity with it, no matter what it's called or ostensibly about.)

Just about no one who's ever seen this poem has liked it. Most of the friends who read the poetry I was writing during this period felt it was too didactic, too preachy. I don't think so; I think that the final lines make a nice twist. I always thought it was good, and it still gives me great pleasure to read it. But see what you think, O reader.