You sat with your legs apart, fanning yourself;
on your face beads of sweat glistened in the light.
You wanted to wait until dark to make love,
but the sultry day had turned into a sultry night.
You were hoping for a breeze and complained
that the window was shut, but I said you were wrong.
I stood and went to the casement and leaned out
to show that it had been open all along.
Outside the evening swallowed up the garden’s shade,
and the black tree trunks grew blacker still.
Then a crow’s caw sounded above us like a short laugh,
and a barn owl flew up over a hill.
A red moon was pulling itself up over a meadow
like a pregnant woman lifting herself from a bed,
and the humid, shadowy heat lay
heavily on the lawn like a marker for the dead.
When I turned, your hand, my love, without the license
of your will, had started to unbutton your dress,
and you, who ordinarily look so girlish,
stood and stared at me like a barbarian princess.
This poem is included in a book of lyrics called ‘What Have I Done, If I Haven’t Loved.’