Women and the Syntactical World

Would it help to know
I’m a little in love
with your husband?

Or that I’m in love

with my own, and
I’m not going anywhere?
Or that the version of me

you hear in this poem

is a version of me
that loves mostly poets,
a few artists; one tile-guy,

and a couple of older

doctors, including
William Carlos Williams
whom a love of women loved

and a lot of men have loved,

as well? If he—
and now I’m speaking
of your husband—loved

me, say, outside by those falls,

the one hard to find
in the city, it only
would hace enlarged us both.

There is that one letter written

as a poem about cell
division as a metaphor
for communication, but my news

for you is that all poems

are love poems
in my book. Can I kiss you?
your tongue standing

in for his tongue, your ear

delicious in its resistance.
I ask only because I want
to sidle up to the hips

of this world, bend it

over at the waist, check
the small bones of its back,
whisper into the concaves,

oh forgive me, forgive me.

I’ve tried to hide this,
keep my mouth closed,
but the world pried me open

long ago, and I chose not to fight

back, selecting instead,
the pleasure of giving
in to what I can’t explain

and simply won’t apologize for.


Cover of TLR's "How to Read Music" issueLaura McCullough’s third collection of poems, Speech Acts, is forthcoming. She has been awarded two NJ State Arts Council fellowships and is a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Essex. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Potomac, and Gulf Coast, among others.

“Women and the Syntactical World” was originally published in How To Read Music (TLR Spring 2010).