Tryst. Poem by Despy Boutris


The secret to sin is to do it
in secret. We learned secrecy young—
two girls taught to swallow our hunger—
so we meet up at nightfall
once the last lights have gone out. We walk
down the roads, cursing this town
full of coal-miners and farmers and churches,
cursing the way we’ll likely never leave.
The air is petrichor-stained, and we’re led
only by the humming streetlights
and starlit sky. We find each other
at our meeting place, the lake south of me,
north of you, me scrambling over the wet rocks
toward the grove where you’ve lain down
the knit blanket. And as soon as we catch
each other’s eyes, we’re each saying Here
is my shirt, here is my hair, my hands,
my mouth, take it, take me, right
now. Your eyes glow like lightning bugs,
jaw sharp as my pocket knife. As we strip
our breaths turn to fog, the cool drizzle falling
onto your curls and half-shut eyelids.
Your thighs shear mine—
the seawater taste of skin, the scrape of teeth
against lip, fingertips meandering down spines,
tracing mandibles. Breaths a windstorm—
some desire to rub ourselves together
till we make some sort of fire. As your mouth
latches onto skin hardly anyone has seen,
rosy even in this low light, we gasp
like people drowning, and I try to think
of a word for the way I want you—wildly,
maybe. Like a monsoon. But what’s at first erotic
erodes: love collapsing like the hills
that gave way after so much rain and mud
last winter. And so much want
is sinful—I know—so we’re wary
of the fires and floods, lying together
only in darkness, water spattering our faces,
swallowing what we can of each other.

(first published in Prairie Schooner)

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Despy Boutris is published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, Palette Poetry, Third Coast, Raleigh Review, Diode, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast.

Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; You may visit Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)