Library Animals – Toby Fitch

(after Shakespeare)

She follows me up
to the eighth floor of the library
where eerie dust,

shushed by a coy
draught, stirs
amongst the shelves.

We snake in and out
of the aisles, looking for a corner
or a space as dark

as a room in bedlam for us
to become the rude myth
of our birthright.

But with no Venus glove
for entering the nest
of the phoenix

we’re both fair game.
And the idea of it, of flesh,
almost becomes an impediment:

the spiced rivers of her hair
in our lips as we kiss;
the knuckles of her spine

like the rivets in her dress —
obstructions, abstractions, words
in the way — that is

until our burning will touches
the metallic shelves
like lava meeting glacier,

bumping the goose
in both of us
and steaming up the windows

that turn a blinkered eye
to the odds of being caught
red-handed.

“Put some more English on it,”
she whispers, with
my finger on her forepart.

And unbridled, I risk the faux
pun: “Are you a woman
given to lie…?”

But that’s not
how she does it now, alive
in the dusky back

passages of the library,
where the dimmed fluoro
and deep shadow

bisect our civil demeanours,
where we succumb at last
to our lower halves,

making love like centaurs,
a discreet but riveting
performance

to a hushed and studied audience
of thousands laid
before us in many positions

though mainly standing up
and jacketless, front
to back.