Drift and Vapor (Surf Faintly).
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.)
ROBERT HASS served as poet laureate of the United States from
1995 to 1997; he is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American
Poets. The poems in this issue all appear in his forthcoming book, Time
and Materials, Poems 1997-2005 (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007).