For Irving Layton, with love

If it be any man,
let it be him.

He may leer, he may grab, he may smile with his eyes and look
with his mouth,
agape and astutely pointed along the curves
of my body. He may keep me
late at his office to water his ego
and watch the stars come out across his bookshelves.

He may boast to his high-browed, oft-published, similarly-reprehensible colleagues
about the perk of my tits. He may laugh from deep
in his groin when I start against the sound
of his rough-cut voice. He may brush
yellowed fingers against rosied cheeks and stall
out before ever getting anywhere but there. He may be accused
of chasing me down hallways, cornering me against
lecterns, catching me between tigers and clouds.

He may maneuver his name between
the pages of my textbooks, his palm between
where my shirt ends and my jeans begin.
He may surprise me on cold days by pressing his wilted
body against mine with the excuse of the transfer of heat;
his arms act a blanket, his hands, a locket lying
twitchy on my chest. He may press in harder
and my lower back catches fire.

He may be lewd, inappropriate, crass, raw, slippery, senile, accusatory, handsy, vulgar, boorish, rude, and uncouth. But let it be him
above all others
for only he has the decency to write me into poetry.

[I started writing poetry about sexuality way back in 1942 when you weren’t supposed to mention things like thighs and breasts, you know, or that people went to the bathroom. You were not supposed to use four letter words like ‘tuck’ and ‘suck’ you know. And I was the first one to do it and because of that and the image of me as some kind of rampaging, raging, lecher going down the corridors, pouncing on all the helpless co-eds, you know, with my unzippered fly, is the image, which has, you know, gained popularity in this country.—Irving Layton on CBC in 1978 talking about his image as a ‘sex-crazed lecher’]

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