Comfort Animal

Mine is timid
around strangers
and is known to bite
if he feels cornered—
sometimes I believe
he feels threatened
by the cage he imagines
I must have hidden
in one of my many rooms.
He lives for long walks
in the woods
where he can stop
whenever he needs to pee,
or has a wish to investigate
the marvelous array
of wildflowers—
and his endurance
is more than
(or at least equal to) mine,
and I can take him
almost anywhere
without worry he’ll run off
and never return—
his loyalty is a mix
of curiosity and restraint—
but I think his devotion
has something to do
with the way I scratch his ears
and rub his belly
and let him sleep in my bed—
but I suspect
he’s always ready to bolt
if I lean in too close
or hug him
a little too tight.

DeMaris
3-29-18

“Master Bedroom” by Andrew Wyeth, 1965

Scaffolding

I was 12 years old
when Ryan Akers
approached me in the arcade
while I played Centipede.
I tried not to pay attention,
tried to act like I didn’t feel
anything unusual—
as if the new and unfamiliar wish
for him to touch me
was as benign
as anyone’s desire to hold a puppy.
And I don’t remember
a single word he and I exchanged
but I remember the shock
of seeing Lance kiss Amy
in the dark corridor
before we got picked up—
and the next morning in Sunday school
I watched Amy open a Dum-Dum
which she licked with a kind of pleasure
that made me certain
she wasn’t focused on the Book of Joshua
or its heroine, Rahab, the prostitute
who got exactly what she wanted.
Amy’s mind
was on the tip of Lance’s tongue—
and on the tip of mine
were words like sensual and erotic—
words that weren’t yet in my lexicon,
but their meaning was beginning
to take hold
on the scaffolding of my experience,
which wouldn’t include a kiss
from Ryan Akers—
but it was his anatomy
that first led my imagination
to cling to all the possible and varied
expressions of what I can now
identify as love.

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-18-18

Cropped area of “The Love Song” Norman Rockwell, 1926