Thursday 2 July 2020


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.

* * * * *

"Tryst" was first published in Prairie Schooner.

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.

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