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

A Message from the Editors

Receive ten digital and print issues plus a bonus issue when you subscribe to The New Criterion by August 31.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 9, on page 34
Copyright © 2022 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com