I realise it’s not all salad sandwiches
at pinewood picnics, endless volleyball.
I’ve heard the argument that talk of shame
and how our forebears thought their bodies dirty;
how we’ve all got one. Seen one, seen ’em all.
But it’s not for me, beneath my double load
of Calvinist and voyeuristic tendencies.
For me, I have to see the clothes come off:
the way a button’s thumbed through cotton cloth –
a winning move in some exotic game
with no set rules but countless permutations –
or how a summer dress falls to the floor
with momentary mass and with a plash
that stirs us briefly as we ply our passion;
a hand pushed through the coldness of a zip,
three fingertips that follow down the spine
to where a clasp is neatly spun undone
amidkiss, by prime legerdemain
and who cares that it happens once in four
and never, never on the first undressing,
it must be better than a foreskin snagged
on gorse thorns or a cold, fat nipple jammed
in the scissor drawer, the bounty and the blessing,
the mystery of nakedness reduced
till on a par with go-go palaces
where goosebumped, grinding strippers strut their stuff
in the birthday clothes of backstreet empresses,
down on a par with the oncologist
who gropes for lumps, the night-morgue man who clips
his nails amongst the naked, bin-bagged stiffs.
So, stranger, what I want to say is this:
if you’re to join me in a little sinning
(and this is my place up here on the right),
please understand I’d value some reluctance,
a cold-feet shiver, as in the beginning
when Eve discovered modesty and slipped
in and out of something comfortable.
For there are many ways to skin a cat,
but ours is human nature – things come off
so rarely. Come in. Let me take your coat.