dark pairing


Dark Pairing
Tarfia Faizullah

I am learning to love you,

my fingers unruly.

What thrives without
special treatment?

Not all species are hardy,
easy to grow from seed.  Let us

remember how innocent we were.

Some species
prefer full sun, others tolerate
the shade—
Love, didn’t I know you first

by your body’s particulate sweat?—Some

species are overlooked, mistaken
for weeds, choked by the neighboring,

and there was a time I was one
of many thin stalks none would want to cut.

You move among the many-
                                                breasted hives, my heart under your foot,

sister of a stone. It’s true I gave

you the memory of my sister to keep, seed
of her ghost—

and you, here like this,
pressing back—it comes

back readilyand I turn

to you, caught,
your mouth opening.  I feared

my father most, and fought his voice’s

hard darkening—toughest of all species,

it survives on its own, and though the propensity to hybridize creates confusion,

you and I continue to bend into and away

from each other, dark pairing.  I understand

the fear
of a child growing
into a woman, one

who might show love—kneeling down

to drink again the riotous tangling of my legs in yours.

Don’t we have to cut away rungs from this
wild climbing? Here
is grace,

such verdant and frost-
burnt propagating.

*italicized from “The Beekeeper’s Daughter” by Sylvia Plath