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Moira Egan Moira Egan


ďGod, humans are creatures of habit,Ē
I say to no one particular,
myself, the man who calls himself my
lover, behind me in the next room.

The way we laugh when we hit the switch
knowing thereís no electricity,
or turn the faucet to wash our hands
anyway, plumber downstairs, no flow.

Do what youíve always done, and youíll get
what youíve always gotten. This is our
homily these days, and I believe
it. God, humans, creatures, here we

sit in the cosmic chain of being,
him in the next room, me at my work.
He is reading, quietly, poems
that make him moan. This is sweet because

they are my own. He, of course, is not.
There is a woman some miles away
who yet is here with us, a corner
of the room and our consciences just

for her. Seems Iíve always been the third
angle of the triangle, the heart-
shaped chaos created by a yes
born of a no. And what I now know

is I want him alone, the slow moan
mine, no more shadowed eyes peering
from corners, through blinds. Do what Iíve done
always? always, Iíll trace clandestine skin.

A Valediction: Forbidding Valentine's Day

These last few days prefigure spring
   in all her excess. Mad birds break
from bush and branch, and screech or sing
   an almost-melody; they take

the winterís silence away from us.
   Slowly the almond trees open,
blossoms crimson at center, limned frost-
    pale, as if for protection.

The sun shines sometimes, the airís cold,
   and the sky. And you are far
and away from me, though you told
   me youíd love me forever.

O and the sweet geometry,
    perfect circle of your arms
like silk enfolding me.
   Now the thought of that harms

me, stupid heart, ridiculous
    as cupid cards and chocolate.
The points of that stiff twin compass
   stab in rhythm at my breastplate.

This was meant to be a vale-
   diction, a good-bye. But to what?
The veil of mourning, dark vale
   of lonely in which Iíve lately dwelt?

Iíve begun to believe itís valiant,
    alone in the shadowvalley,
to watch lovers kiss and not want
   anything more than wanting me.

You can turn pain around like a riverstone
   in your pocket. Feel its smoothness,
resolve. Clear and cold as stream, you own
   this wish to live alone in bliss.

Left-Handed Love Poem

I think you fell in love with me
the day I woke and solved the mystery
of the cabin in the Sierra Nevada
— altitude notwithstanding — it was
a Can Opener for the Left-Handed.
I got that coffee perking. At times
Iíve seen you struggle with my coffee maker, scissors.
It isnít fun and games: think of golf clubs, playing cards,
restringing your Ovation. And youíll never know
the slow joy of a fountain pen.

In spite of nuns and spiral notebooks
youíve learned well: your hands speak the language
of your oppressor, though itís a left-handed compliment
at best to praise your dexterity. But when language
drops away, and the buttons are undone —
and your prejudiced zipper —
and we lie together, you on your right side,
me on my left — what a wondrous mirror. And the hand
most fluent — my right, your left — reaches out and over —
I you there, you me here
We are chiasmus, a perfect X of sex.
And I think Iíd never be right
again if you left.

Broken Sapphics

Incongruous nights, my horoscope tells
me, dragonflies whir, iridescent. I would like
to catch one, tie it in your flagrant red hair,
     but I canít right now.

Prayers ascend behind me, elaborate as
oratorios, a stained cathedral key.
I am blind and solid as malachite,
     these statues of saints.

On Broadway I saw a sun-white cowís skull on
a Navajo blanket. Trying to make sense
of this, flotsam, jetsam of my unconscious,
     silver waves crashing,

the beer turns almost warm as blood in my hands.
I wonít look up when you leave / your cigarettes
here, a shadow. For them you return. We kiss
through a wrought-iron gate.

The one night in my house, our hair entangled,
anemones in flow and ebb, you felt my
pulse. Love, I thought; but your questions for me were
      merely metrical.

O and how I am tired, a womanly tired
of all that I have tried, and truly, I look
to you, through you, for something, a heart that beats
     gentle as velvet.