“Underground” by Lee Rossi

Lee Rossi


Like a caver edging along a narrow gallery
who must stoop, then crawl, then shimmy
like his ancestor snake through the narrowest
possible hole, I slid my fat boy, weeping
now in anticipation, between her butt cheeks
and pressed. It was someone else wearing
my name, my body. What kind of faith
pulls him into that unforgiving obstruction?
Every day men get stuck in places
from which they can’t withdraw, and suffer
those slow, painful deaths we like to imagine
only when we’re warm and well-fed.
I’m not talking about mineral death,
of course, but the kind where you’re lying
in bed with someone you thought you wanted,
and then realize you don’t. Most of the time,
if he’s careful and lucky, the cave man
slips through into a larger chamber,
a closet or vestibule. And once,
or maybe twice in a life, he’ll find himself
in some immense opening, a cathedral
complete with organ pipes and carved
pillars soaring into the dark. I pressed again,
and she relaxed, allowing me to pop
into that spacious underground, where
a man could lose direction and wander
until he’d forgotten why he wanted to leave.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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