Brian Richards

Poem Beginning with Lines from Aurora Leigh

She told me she had loved upon her knees,
As others pray, as if her back-seat driver had not
demanded the service she performed for the chauffeur.
That query we need never make: will you next go
down like I did? Is not every gift a prayer,
every suck a supplication? I mean no
matter how much we like to do it, if we do,
the way it laves the lips, the throat.
                            She watches out
the window, the same resigned, beatific smile,
the love she has always felt for us, her murmurs of
pleasure, the elongated beauty of your jaw
and throat engorged, how we are devoted to her.
Modulated by. Levitated: she passes
her wand beneath from neck to heel and touches
nothing, though she must pull back toward herself
to remove it.
           Hard to imagine Elizabeth
Barrett Browning inviting Robert into her
esophagus, harder to guess how the question might
come up, though she must have kissed him on the head
at least once, overcome with Romantic Passion.
He would have been astonished, who never guessed
what a twat was, or a metaphor. He thought she was
a great poet, though she will have to settle for fame,
like Linda Lovelace, or Carolyn Forche, no matter
they all protest that they were forced. The inversion of
value and scarcity is commodious. You are as
likely to profit from what comes out of your mouth
as from what goes in, depending on what it is.
A poem is that sort of ejaculate, and if
you get it deep enough in you don’t have to swallow.
It just comes. We tremble, on our knees, grateful
for these holy spasms that fill and empty us.