A few weeks ago I posted a poem by Beth Ann Fennelly, I’d found in anthology of erotica. I have been looking at a couple of her books, and thought I’d post another today, a different kind of erotic.
Once I Did Kiss Her Wetly on the Mouth
Once I did kiss her wetly on the mouth
and her lips loosened, her tongue rising like a fish
to swim in my waters
because she learns the world
by tasting it, by taking it inside.
I desired it—her learning my tongue that way.
Yes, I wanted to soul-kiss my dauther,
to lather, slaver the toothless gums
and the cat-arched back of her palate,
to sniff the bouquet of baby’s breath
all the way to the vase of her throat
Look at her, in her highchair,
wearing her yam goatee
I like to take her whole foot in my mouth
Look at her, in her bib
slung backward, like a superhero’s cape—
beware, small villains everywhere
Oh, that first day
when the nurses returned her to my cot
so newly minted, her soles were black from ink
they laid her, naked on my naked chest
so she could swell my breasts with milksong,
so I could warm her with my skin,
and so, next to my more regular heart,
her skittish beat would steady—
though I swear when she latched on
all meter, music changed
I whispered in her see-through ear
I’d keep her safe forever—
I, her first lover.
Beth Ann Fennelly
I think it’s very tricky to write poems about that incredible bond between infant and parent, that overwhelming love–hard to stay away from the maudlin or cloying. Sharon Olds was the first to show me this could be done, although Plath had a few wonderful infant poems, t00.
This is from the book Tender Hooks, which I’m liking very much. Some wonderful poems about birth, infancy, as well as other subjects. I think this is a very deft effort. Though I might lose the one verse about the bib… Though it’s charming, is it maybe a little too charming? We already have the adorable yam goatee. Maybe I can ask Ms. Fennelly about that!