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The Blue Moon Review

The Aftermath
by Ellen Bass
When the fierce pure pleasure

has clawed through, ripped open

my tent of separateness,

I lay in my lover's arms, weeping

and exposed. I can't help seeing

my sister, new widow

whose heart hangs

heavy, a side of beef

in the ice box of her chest.

I imagine her entering

a bedroom like this, maples

flaming beyond the window

against a perfectly useless blue sky.

And then my mother-in-law

stops at the library on the way home

from her husbandís funeral,

picks up the book they've been holding.

It sits in the passenger seat

while she stares at the windshield, stunned,

a bird flown into glass.

Even my friend whose wife hasnít died yet

appears in this sex-drenched air. Tears

pool in the shallows under his eyes.

If his soul were a tin can, it would be sliced,

the thick soup leaking out.

The night is soaked with suffering.

My dumb body, sprung open, canít tell

the difference between this blaze of pleasure

and the sorrow it drags in.

As I gaze out into the gathering darkness

it seems I almost comprehend

the mystery, glimpse the water of life

pouring through my form into theirs,

theirs back to mine, misery and ecstasy

swirled like the blue white planet

seen from space,

but it lasts less than a moment--

the arms of my own dear one

haul me back into my body, her flesh

so ostentatiously  alive. 

Ellen Bass's most recent book of poetry Mules of Love (BOA Editions, 2002) won the Lambda Literary Award. Her non-fiction books include I Never Told Anyone, Free Your Mind, and The Courage to Heal. Among her awards are the Elliston Book Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize, the Larry Levis Prize, the New Letters Prize, The Greensboro Award in Poetry, The Chautaqua Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize.

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