opening a wound


Drift and Vapor (Surf Faintly)
Robert Hass
How much damage do you think we do,
making love this way when we can hardly stand
each other?–I can stand you. You’re the rare person
I can always stand.–Well, yes, but you know what I mean.
–I’m not sure I do. I think I’m more light-hearted
about sex than you are. I think it’s a little tiresome
to treat it like a fucking sacrament.
–Not much of a pun. –Not much. (She licks tiny wavelets of
dried salt
from the soft flesh of his inner arm. He reaches up
to whisk sand from her breast.)–And I do like you. Mostly.
I don’t think you can expect anyone’s imagination
to light up over the same person all the time. (Sand,
peppery flecks of it, cling to the rosy, puckered skin
of her aureola in the cooling air. He studies it,
squinting, then sucks her nipple lightly.)–Umnh.
–I’m angry. You’re not really here. We come
as if we were opening a wound.–Speak for yourself.
(A young woman, wearing the ochre apron of the hotel staff,
emerges from dune grass in the distance. She carries
snow-white towels they watch her stack on a table
under an umbrella made of palm fronds.)–Look,
I know you’re hurt. I think you want me
to feel guilty and I don’t.–I don’t want you
to feel guilty.–What do you want then?
–I don’t know. Dinner. (The woman is humming something
they hear snatches of, rising and fading on the breeze.)
–That’s the girl who lost her child last winter.
–How do you know these things? (She slips
Into her suit-top.)–I talk to people. I talked
To the girl who cleans our room. (He squints
Down the beach again, shakes his head.)
–Poor kid. (She kisses his cheekbone.
He squirms into his trunks.)