peonies and pennies and twice is not a curse

Once when I had been making love for hours with a man I loved who loved me, he went to kiss my arm and kissed his own instead.

This was a man I’d seen on a subway and then on a sidewalk and then on a subway, a man who had finally strode up to me with a grin and worried, kind eyes and said, “I fear I’d be terribly remiss if I did not say hello” and it was ok, the way he phrased it, because he was British and it didn’t feel like we were in the present so much as a noir of a neverexistent 1930s–

–a present that seemed like a future of a past infinitely purer and prettier than anything dreamed by this present–

and so we began circling each other, going for walks in the parks, meeting for chaste diner breakfasts, falling in step with birds, early spring air, the stoops of 90s brownstone brooklyn jamaican patties kids biking barbeque smoke smog pollen, until one day he bent down and his mouth met mine

and we fell into each other like it was where we were supposed to be all along.

For months we spent all our time wrapped in each other’s mouths and hands and limbs
cock pussy tongue
we didn’t notice what hole it was
what hill it was
as long as it was
in each other

i knew his sand and salt as he knew my copper and peonies

until I could not tell where his breath began and mine ended,
nor his touch
nor his taste
nor his desire

even in public our heads would dip toward each other,
swooning at the shock of the other separate, showered and sharp

shocking to see each other in clothes
shocking to see each other make chitchat
holding drinks
holding at bay
saying something smart
saying something besides

(thank god it’s you)

at the crowded bars and rooftops and restaurants of those pre-millennia days, our friends (still young, still gleaming, still alive, o god still alive) mattering so much to us but our eyes finding only each other

and our fingers
and our mouths

until these friends would groan

get a room

and we would


until summer deepened
and then when we fucked
we were slick with sweat and beats thumping
open windows everywhere
hip hop too
the outside world inside us
nothing but the thinnest membrane the thinnest sheet separating us from the whole universe
the whole of time

and still we kept reaching for each other

until in the midst of all that
he lifted his head from between my legs
me still coursing on sea and heat
and instead of kissing my arm
he kissed his own

and i knew exactly what he meant

there was so much love and lust
so much communion
so much double divine

that it was possible to love himself as he loved me

there was no distinction
in that
earthly twinning

The so much more

so much more
than the arch and crisp
(the hollow),
of who we’d been before

So that when we broke apart
after he broke my heart
after I broke his first

after he recrossed that ocean and knew I’d never follow

when I stopped weeping
when i picked myself up

after months
after years

after i forgot most of who we were
because amnesia is how we rejoin time
because amnesia is how we do not fall forever

but still
the thought of my sweet sweet man
posh to the world, maybe even austere
now a voice on wires
now a husband to another
now a father to children not my own
(though we had a child, she slipped away as the towers burned)

paintings: Alice Neel; film still: You’re Not There

When i think of this man
so tenderly kissing his own arm

our love so complete
that his arm was my arm
and my arm his arm


we loved each other so much we could love ourselves


we loved each other so we could love ourselves

(always and)

I pray i do not make the mistake twice.


"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy