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Let there not be sex. Let the roil
behind my sternum quiet. Let

there be hand-holding. Let there be
singing or not singing but let it be sound alone

or silence. Let me be clear: I desire you
as a body desires a body. As a fern

bends toward the window, night & day.
Let us draw near in the making of bread

in the sound of your laughter
as you watch television three rooms

away. Let there not be sweat. Let the smell
of my body be wind at high altitude, your body

salt & sand. Let a warm cheek be enough.
Let me be understood when I flinch

at touch. Let my thighs be the garden Eden,
vacant. Let the apple. Let my fingers worry

the stone smooth. Let my mouth be drought.
Let my No be the whisper of a knife

from its sheath. Let your patience be
repaid ten thousand times. Let love come

without hands or lips. Let the bedsheet
touch us both at once.



John Allen Taylor is the author of the chapbook Unmonstrous (YesYes). His poems appear in Poetry Northwest, Diagram, Nashville Review, The Common, Pleiades, and elsewhere. He directs the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, serves as senior poetry reader for Ploughshares, and bakes sourdough bread.




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