(after he had taken off Emily Dickinson’s)

First, the lanyard,
all oedipal and complex,
for it had rubbed uncomfortably
and incessantly
against the nipple of my left breast
and the V-neck,
I raised over his slow eyes
as he held up his arms
with the small obedience of a polite boy.
Next, the white vest,
my fingers pushing through
to the black hairs on his white chest.

You will want to know
that he was standing
in the panelled room
beneath the heavy clock;
that there was a slight shortness
in his breath
as I pulled a little tighter
on the belt,
before I loosed it.

There is nothing difficult
about men’s undergarments
in the twenty-first century
and I proceeded like a short-order chef
searing the idioms of his nakedness.

Later, I wrote about it in a notebook,
for I was inclined
to reveal all,
how I left him then,
standing beneath the black lantern in the hall
with only his loud vernacular horn,
boasting of all the shy, wide-eyed women
he imagined that he’d known.