Sex Without Love
My father built the green platform tree house
high in the parched straggle leafed oak.
A square Robin-Hood nest
with the live trunk in the centre,
supported by thick radial branches
that sprung from that heart.
I lay flat on my bare stomach,
tanning through leaves around the edge
of my briefs, my grass-colored swimsuit.
My brown hair spun and raveled with leaves,
narrow face buried in the bright skin of an orange,
cheeks sticky and clotted with pulp.
Across the aluminum chain link fence,
in the neighbors razor-burned yard
(they sliced the trees at the root for easier mowing)
between the blue wound
of the above-ground pool
and the feculent, fish crowded river,
a cluster of mongrels put on a show.
My chest was bare and cagey with ribs,
flat little-girl nipples still five years from breasts
kissed the splintery pine boards.
The left one, grooved like the slit of a flat-headed screw,
burned with an ant bite that raised
to a pustule and longed for scratching.
I slouched forward on arms
hard and gray at the elbows,
lost in the fight.
The bitch stood still and panting
in the packs hot centre,
a white pit-bull mix with strong teeth exposed.
Her vagina, blood-swelled, puffy
as lips padded with collagen,
or the site of a particularly vicious infection.
As the males writhed and bit each other,
pouncing, rolling, exposing their tender bellies
and bright red erections,
she whined and whined for satisfaction.
For me, the fighting was the best part.
The impersonal violence, the sudden blood.
The way gaps opened at the throats of the rivals,
ears, flopping, black, erect, tattered like silk
slicked over with water. The barks and the howls.
Even my Dalmatian wanted in on this hunger,
though he was neutered.
His empty scrotum hung like a slack cold purse
flapping behind his penis
which pushed like new lipstick
from its white fur coat.
He strained at the rope
which bound him to the orange tree.
I shouted reassurance at him.
‘Shut up, boy. It’s all right.
You’re not missing anything good.’
Like I knew anything at eleven years old.
The winner was mostly Rottweiler,
a great dark thing of muscle and force.
A good face, I thought.
Broad and dog-grinning with tan painted eyebrows.
His equipment much larger than my dog’s,
the color of raw steak, matching her cleft.
They were made for each other,
drawn together like halves of the same creature,
separated by force. They slotted in close,
sword into scabbard, hiding the wound.
The vanquished foes dispersed at the first thrust
and even my dog found the slack in his rope.
A flurry of motion, the black haunches jackhammering,
the white tail pulled awkwardly up,
four ears laid flat against two sleek skulls,
both mouths alternately peeled from teeth
and open for nipping at nape or taut neck.
I watched from my perch, easily bored
now that the thing which interested me
was over and past.
Afterwards both parties looked smaller,
a little ashamed of themselves, without satisfaction.
They couldn’t detach.
I discovered, much later, that his head
had swelled to arrow-point,
forming a plug to keep his sperm in and all others out.
He lifted his large paws from her ridged spine
and rotated sideways, round their point of intersection
until both their tails were pressed together,
jutting out towards the yard.
Crouched against each other’s backs,
genitals welded for hours,
they stood there between the river and the pool,
on the dead grass studded with dandelions,
Their hind legs shaking, waiting
for the infection to pass, the fever release them.
Lying on my hot boards I bit the skin
of a new orange, my mouth flooding with bitter oil
that gave way to sweetness.
My attention wandered, entirely taken
after a moment with a large bull anole lizard
perched on a high branch, expanding his scaled neck flag
the color of strawberries, his spine and tail ridged
with a fleshy crest that signified maturity.
I watched him signaling with pushups.
The female, small, brown, flagged,
Approached, hungry, across wood.