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After Making Love We Hear Footsteps, By Galway Kinnell

January 02, 1994

For I can snore like a bullhorn

or play loud music

or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman

and Fergus will only sink deeper

into his dreamless sleep, which goes by all in one flash,

but let there be that heavy breathing

or a stifled cry anywhere in the house

and he will wrench himself awake

and make for it on the run--as now, we lie together,

after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our bodies,

familiar touch of the long-married,

and he appears--in his baseball pajamas, it happens,

the neck opening so small he has to screw them on--

and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself to sleep,

his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.

In the half darkness we look at each other

and smile

and touch arms across this little, startlingly muscled body--

this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making,

sleeper only the mortal sounds can awake,

this blessing love gives again into our arms.

From "3 Books Galway Kinnell: Body Rags; Mortal Acts; Mortal Words; The Past" (Houghton Mifflin: $16.95). 1993 Reprinted by permission.

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