Facing Off

I feel naive when I think of it now,
how carelessly I stood before him,

like a ballet dancer in a dressing room
bright with the backs of other girls.

This was before the coldness he nursed
and kept warm between his thighs.

I waited too long for a thaw—he waited too.
Taking him into my mouth, I knew the ache

of winter. I heard the silences
grow as a field of stones between us.

When I look back at my body, young
in the bedroom dark, lit by a perpetual city,

I am gripping a rock in my right hand
and he is gripping a rock in his right hand.

We face each other, muscles poised for sex
or war. Who dropped the rock?

Who cast it? I’m unsure,
even now, who cried mercy first.

Ama Codjoe