A sun-warmed headstone wide enoughFor us to straddle face to face
And spread between us picnic stuff;
I carefully betray no trace
Of inching towards our first embrace.
Cut grass, dead flowers, candle wax
Perfume this strangely hopeful place.
Reclined on elbows we relax
And stretch our happiness around all facts.
Above some body's mold and bones
We clink our glasses, sip bordeaux,
Address each other in hushed tones
And wonder where so many go.
You tell me you don't want to know
And concentrate on cutting brie
While I remember to go slow,
The traffic roar a distant sea,
The dead in bed as far as we can see.
So housewifely your sweet demeanor,
Skirt in place though thighs outspread,
Handing me a cocktail wiener,
Troweling some cheese on bread.
"How happy we who are not dead!"
I bubble forth, though I'm aware you'd
Rather leave such things unsaid.
I didn't bring you here to scare you
Although it does occur to me to dare you.
When I was four I woke up screaming,
The dark star hanging in plain sight.
My father told me I'd been dreaming:
Parental faith, however trite,
That launches us against the night
Dismisses death. And he was drunk.
But now it strikes me he was right.
Without the darkness we'd be sunk,
Imposed upon by Truth and other junk.
That leaky plug each mortal hath,
A swimming symbol of despair
Beneath the surface of the bath
Wobbling sketchily but there,
Isn't really worth our care,
For when it comes down to the crunch
If we're to live with any flare
We have to go with our best hunch
And hope that there'll be time to finish lunch—
Of which we've reached the apple stage
And scarce yet know what to believe.
You're surely less than half my age
But I'm the one who sounds naive,
A child, impatient to conceive
Whereof there image can be none.
Though we must live. Then give me leave
To open up just one more bun.
I'm middle-aged and look! I'm having fun!
So sweep we clean the marble table!
(He below us stirs and glowers.)
Unveiling you up to the navel
I spread the petals of your flower.
You leap, disdaining more to cower,
Astride my lap, engage afresh
And blossoming amid love's bower
We shrug away our clothes and mesh,
A Roman graveyard monument in flesh.