Rita Dove

from Vol. 16, No. 3 (Summer 1993)

A Kiss in the Dark

Thomas Sayers Ellis

In our community everything was kept quiet,
behind closed doors. When dogs got stuck
it was because one was hurt and the other
was a friend helping it home--just like a friend.
Once Reverend Gibson ran from the church
with a bucket of hot water and when it separated them,
they sang. That's why it was such an event,
a mistake equivalent to sin, when my parents
left their bedroom light on, door open.

Mistakes are what gave light to that tiny apartment
darkness tried to conquer. And imagination,
how there had to be more to it than the quick
& crude He put it in and he took it out.

A naked bulb on the dresser next to where
they made me made them celebrities, giants, myth.
I watched their black shadows on the wall,
half expecting fade out and something romantic
as the final scene of Love Crazy , my father
a suave William Powell, my mother's slender body
a backwards C in the tight focus of his arms--
close-shot, oneiric dissolve, jump-cut to years
before their separation and the arrival of hot water.


Poems by Thomas Sayers Ellis
A Kiss in the Dark | Fatal April

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