December 2009 - Comments Off on On the Invention of Innocence

On the Invention of Innocence

Abbey White '13


He came from a place that made you want to beat back the world.

At the wheel his heart-shaped lips pouting about words of war

and ghosts helped carry us down the black river, a brown baby boat

slicing through still air towards a place we wouldn’t call home.

Without sure destination we allowed ourselves to be swept away

by easy refrains, smooth lines that made up for swallowed phrases,

eras we found ourselves singing all loud and shameless. From time

to time my licorice gaze would sweep over the side of his face

that was glowing. And in this certain Arizona light, he possessed

a silhouette that made me long to watch his head fall back.


This type of landscape could make me forget where I’d been.

I found my fingers tangled in ginger curls, a gesture that had him

fumbling over words that typically flowed in proverbial harmony.

Shamelessly did I trace bone structure, lean closer and whisper

expressions reserved solely for lovers. On the radio, Cole Porter

lulled Anything Goes. And I believed him. Nothing was to be

concrete on this melting asphalt. Nothing but what was shoved

furiously in suitcases after we’d felt the allure of second chances.

Was there a moment I could’ve paused to reevaluate? I wouldn’t

know. Desire took over and things moved too quickly to notice.


What a thing to learn: how to create too much friction.

It would be here, in his ’69 Camero, where I’d kiss

lonely freckles, follow their trail with soft sighs to his lips

while fingertips danced over heaving earth-toned skin. Forgetting

blouses and frayed jeans, forgetting our minds and bodies,

forgetting repercussions of the previous—our only intent?

To meet the other’s needs. And oh, what a thing to learn—

the true heaviness of our pitiful limbs—as we struggled and

tussled, back and forth, in and out, picking up where the other left

off. Under the blazing sun there was too much heat between us.

- Based on Dorianne Laux’s Singing Back The World

Published by: in Poetry, Volume 66, Volume 66: Issue 1

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