Suitable Words

I have tried to articulate the ideas of this poem in a more serious way any number of times, but this is what comes of my attempt to do so with a little more humour.  I have no other justification for it.

Suitable Words

I was calling her thighs soft at first,
but the word is obvious, and besides,
we’re not just talking about sweaters here,
or kittens, or plush toiletpaper rolls.
These are a sleeping woman’s thighs,
so soft doesn’t begin to cover it.
It’s the same with the word smooth.   I mean, sure,
a woman’s thighs are nothing if not smooth,
but then so is everything else these days.
Bottled beer is smooth, and so is a car’s
new totally redesigned suspension,
and so are flavoured yoghurt cups.
The word smooth has lost all useful meaning.
Now, I once heard a poet tell his love
that her thighs looked yielding on the soft sheets,
and the word yielding has the benefit,
at least, of being slightly less cliche,
but only at the too substantial cost
of sounding like a paperback romance,
and there’s the grave consideration too
that female bodies are now widely thought
to be capable of a great deal more
than just yielding or not yielding themselves,
what with all the widespread patriarchal
stereotypes of ardent, active males
and modest, passive females having been
thoroughly displaced by now. So there’s that.
The problem is that I can’t think of words
that are in any way more suitable.
Firm is too, well, too firm, I would suggest.
Curved? — accurate but a bit technical.
Warm? — obviously. Plump? — oh God save me.
Just imagine if I called her thighs plump,
even in the best way, because I do think
that thighs should have some plumpness to them;
there’ s just no way I’d get away with it.
But if no true words remain to be said,
then we’re stuck with common experience,
and I have to hope that all hands have laid,
as mine is now laid, on a woman’s thigh,
or a man’s of course, if you so desire,
depending on your gender and preference
and so forth, but a thigh in any case,
because if your hand too has lain like that
you might also understand, without words,
what it is that I’m trying to describe.
Except the thigh where you have laid your hand
would always be another thigh than hers,
your hand always another hand than mine,
and it could never, ever be the same,
not even remotely, not ever.
So I’ll just keep on lying here, and know,
without words, what it is to hold this thigh,
and leave the rest of you all on your own.


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