by David Welch
beginning on a line by Misty Harper
1: on lying
You will want to make the corners of the mouth
very dark, so the teeth appear asleep and silent inside the mouth.
2: on breathing
Even coming softly the wind rattles the sills.
The windows whistle a song in parting, like the mouth.
3: on swallowing
Take only the smallest bodies with your tongue: accept
the muscled rules you must maintain inside the mouth.
4: on kissing
I felt your nose like a plum in the dark. Suddenly
I was swimming—unable to breathe or see the mouth.
5: on tying
There are three ways you can teethe and three
knots: the shoelace, the noose, and the mouth.
6: on loving
If his stomach is the surest path to a man’s heart,
you must be sure to take him by the mouth.
7: on closing
In spite of tradition, I’m leaving it open:
[place any name you want in my mouth]
David Welch has poems published or forthcoming in Quarterly West, Pleiades, and Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets’ University & College Prizes, 1999–2008. He received his MFA from the University of Alabama and currently lives in Chicago. (9/2009)