He cups his hands around the flame of her.
He is the ember crushed into her palm.
She is the streak of tar along his teeth.
He is the palace corner where she stands.
She seals him with the moisture of her tongue
And grips him in her fingers soft and white.
He is the cells dividing in her lungs.
She is the vapor darkening his sight.
He warms the hidden places in her throat,
Makes love inside a chemical caress.
She is the nub end sealed with drying spit.
He is the slag and soot stain on her dress.
She is the catch and tremble in his breath.
She tastes of ash the way he tastes of death.

                                                                     —Graham Hillard

New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 9, on page 34
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com