The Obverse of Love

(A reflection of aspects of my past, but then, most poetry is, one way or another)


                             The Obverse of Love

I am one of those men who cannot fight;

Contention was forbidden in my house.

Never did we fight,  nor even loudly argue,

But once, and for that my father beat us,

My sister and myself, with a hairbrush,

Us, bare, kneeling side by side at the couch.

Only that once.

That one time

I felt my father’s intimate touch,

Through the medium of that wooden implement,

That touch of which affection is its obverse,

That one displayed as rarely as the other.


So peace reigned in its uneasy fashion,

And the lessons of victory and defeat alike denied.

Just so, anger learned to fester and

Reconciliation to starve.  And I,

I learned to shun the alien embrace of hostility.


I became one of those men who cannot fight,

Weapons of scold, accusation, lashing out

Send me to my knees, mute, burning up

With that delicious fury whose expression

I find so foreign,

And I am haunted

By the faces of those who evoke it.

Is that desperation I see?  Do they suspect

As I do, my way of love may be as limited

As my expression of its obverse?


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