Tonguesplay

by David Thorley

Read the dictionary, and you will learn such things about human
pleasure as will make your hair curl. – Les Murray

Like that pleasure itself is a verb
both transitive and reflexive –
the pleasuring in, and the pleasuring of.
Like that the English fucked a century
before they made love, and the prim Victorians
first found need to give names to erogenous zones.
Like that the ivory orb, of some contraption
called an anal violin, strung with catgut,
was plugged into pucks, and bowed from the Orient
to the Ottoman Empire singing
like boy sopranos. And that sacred grounds
have sacred names, less whispered than
sweet nothings between stones. Like that
the bill and coo of flickered contact’s said
to burn the lips, a thousand times more hot
and tantalising than thirst, and that
secrets vanish from the fingertips
like guttering match flames or a skittering
artery’s pulse. Like that the breath, when hollowed
from the lungs and cabined in the throat,
seems to shovel cyclones in the ribs, and the taste
of skin at naval, clavicle, and hip
is chartable to tongues as deep-water channels
to a night-rigged ship. That spasm recalls
drawn swords and cords wrenched from their rings,
and frenzy fires the brain. Bucking is the habit
of male deer, and writhing draws a crooked
swerving veil. Breathless disperses steam,
through contortion’s knitting. Electricity’s
an alloy of silver and gold. And crackling
resounds. Shivering splinters. Quivering’s
a guitar tremolo fluttering over bellyskin,
and the kick kick kick of a snaredrum’s roll’s
like javelins spiking into consecrated earth.