A man in terror of impotence or infertility, not knowing the difference . . . . Adrienne Rich We live in dread of something: Need, perhaps. Tears, the air inside a woman's dress, the deep breath of non-ambition. In a valley of stone, men had to carry stones. In a sea of fertility, women could drown in the wake of conceptions. We no longer build in stone— houses of rice paper, beds of feather. Manhood is the one stone we still insist on, lifting it From abandoned quarries, carrying it on our backs even when we make love, until the woman beneath us calls passion a kind of Suffocation, surfaces for air like a young child whose head has been pushed beneath the water, a way to learn swimming. Did you come? we ask, her head bobbing above the brine that pours from us. Applause is what we want now, Her wet hands clapping in the last wind before she sinks again, before she holds us again so tight we both plunge like a cry for help into the water, Before we fall to the bottom— Stones not even the fish will pause to tell apart.
From Sympathetic Magic, published by Water Mark Press in 1980. Copyright © 1980 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.