Nicky Beer

The Exquisite Foreplay of the Tortoise

Every movement of my body

is a genuflection to stone,
my flesh a chalice for dust,
which is itself the dry ghosts of flesh.

It is true that I have had
my dalliances with the odd
toadstool, the bulbous contours
of their weeping bride-heads,

but oh my love, consider
the rare patience of my desire,
the readiness with which my body
greets you, the anticipation

born in my clay heart
twenty-five years before
I could gaze over the horizon
of your skull, my two legs

trembling on your back
like a ship-born boy’s
on his first beach, terrified
he will drown in this strange earth.


                                                                        for Brian



"The Exquisite Foreplay of the Tortoise" is from The Diminishing House (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2010).