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The night.

Just as the paint leaps off the brush onto clapboards that have gone fifty years unpainted and disappears into them almost with a slurp, so the words of these two who lie talking with mouths almost touching seem to pass from one mouth into the other without any sound except small lip-wetting smacks. Now the mouths touch and linger on each other, making little eating motions and suction squeaks. She licks a wet, slithery language on his chest, looks up, smiles, shines him three actual words, resumes the liturgical licking: in his moans suspense and gratefulness mix, as in the crinkling unfoldings of the wrappings of Christmas packages. He touches her where she glisses wet and shining as the lower lip of a baby tantalizing its gruel bowl with lengthening and shortening dangles of drool: the throbs that fly off her tongue have a slight delay, as if happening across a valley, the touch and then the cry. Their bones almost hit, probably one of flesh's purposes is to keep the skeletons from clattering. Now they call out in cackling chaotic rattles, as when a drinking straw sucks the bottom or the last bath water whirls to the Coriolis force. They feel the glue joining body and soul suddenly ache. They are here, and not here, like the zebra, whose flesh has been sliced up and reassembled in alternating layers with matter from elsewhere. The sense that each one had of being two has given way to the knowledge that each is half of the whole limb-tangle looking like a huge altricial hatchling occupying much of the bed. The man squinches himself close against the back of the woman, an arm crooks over her waist, a hand touches sometimes her breast, sometimes her hand, his penis settles into the groove between her buttocks, falls into deep sleep, almost starts snoring. If someone stumbled upon them this way, him like the big folded wings of her, and jumped back, fearing it an angel fallen, dead or asleep, or bent over and sniffed, thinking it a love-lies-bleeding, they might not budge, the way the woodcock, confident in her camouflage, continues to sit still even if you come up and pet her in the nest, When the sun enters the room, lighting her hair, that lies strewn across the pillow as though it had been washed up, he wakes and watches her, her lips are blubbed from the kissing, her profile is fierce, like that of a figurehead seeing over the rim of the world. She wakes, but they do not get up yet, it is not easy to straighten out bodies that have been lying all night in the same curve, like paint brushes left all winter in a can of evaporated turpentine. They listen to the bony clangs of a church clock. Why only nine? When they have been living since before the earth began.
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Author:Kinnell, Galway
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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