Permission by Kate McGourty


I wrote you a poem, about your milky skin and my desire.
I wrote it, and I lost it and now, I suppose, someone will find it, and read it, and they will know what I never told you.
Your thumb and forefinger, the light rolling of my nipples between them. The brief pressure of your lips on mine, parted, red, and wet, but never tongues touching, never truth-telling.
In 1999, lying breast to breast and palms on hipbones, deep under covers and that’s a metaphor.
I lost the poem shortly after I found you again, though by then you were far away, anyway. Arizona is distant and a decade is gone and you walked out first, to begin with.
In our second century I think I would have a harder time losing you. Not just because everyone is connected without strings, but also that, too.These days, it’s not so easy to disappear.
But, this poem is not about distant love. Because, we don’t talk about the love.The heat, the tension.Wedon’t talk about the lingering looks, and tantalizing touches.
We’ve never talked about them, because we couldn’t, but I wrote all about you.
This is a poem about a lost poem and not about your husband, my adversary-friend, who now is lost too.
I like to think you and I stayed within the bounds of decency, if not comfort. Although, morals and memory are subjective, when speaking to the dead.
This is not a poem about lost youth, or wasted time.
I’m not here to tell you we could’ve really had something, because what we had wasn’t really anything.
Where there is smoke, you will not always find fire. (Be cautious of the heat, nonetheless.)
At 23 and 29, we were staying in, not coming out. Nowadays is different, (now is loud and proud.) but by now, we’re done playing around.
This is a poem about a lost poem, but it’s not a poem about lost time. We used our time as best we could and kept our families together. I couldn’t have carried you and you were coming undone. Hanging up that phone was best for both of us.
This is a poem about a lost poem, but I’m lying. This is a poem about loss.
This is a poem about us.

by Kate McGourty

Editor’s Note: This epistolary poem doesn’t need a recipient to find its way home in the hearts of all of us who have loved and lost, because love is messy, but no less precious for all that.


3 responses to “Permission by Kate McGourty”

  1. Sarah Russell Avatar

    What beautiful restraint and heartache.

  2. Ed Hack Avatar
    Ed Hack

    The repetition, the coming back to it, the detail added almost reluctantly, the mind and heart working their way through to truths—strong and real.

  3. Joyce Myerson Avatar
    Joyce Myerson

    Heartache—but not so much as to overpower wisdom and understanding and acceptance. A poetic rendering of the way mind and memory negotiate the vicissitudes of life—unevenly, sometimes clumsily, but always truthfully. A great poem.

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