ODE TO THE SLAP
Yes to the slap
because its sound is flesh
on flesh and flesh
ought be part of any ode.
Yes to that succulent whomp of body
on body, of hips and bellies and butts
as hands grab a lover's flesh.
I praise the slap that got me breathing
air not amniotic fluid,
tough guys in movies who know to slap you around or slap you silly,
a cold slap on the face,
the sizzle of a steak your lover's slapped against the griddle.
Or maybe it's the short-order cook sleeved in hula girl tattoos
waiting for the shift to end, and a chance to change his shirt.
Huzzah for slapjacks, slapshots, slapstick,
pimp-slaps, bitch-slaps, and slapdashedness.
Earl Edwards, NFL head-slapping scourge,
was a boyhood hero for the mayhem his taped-up right hand dealt.
My own behavior, on the other hand,
construed as mayhem by adults around me,
induced many a slap from my mother –
who never had the heart to give us
a good whacking crack –
but what could mothers know of lunatic boys?
I forgive my father
for slapping my face or just as often my behind –
stinging blows meant to sting,
when I did those things you do,
like soak yourself slapping home through puddles.
And I forgive
and lakes and rivers and all bodies of water
that slap against the shore
to leave us lonely and alone –
longing for that sound, that slapping slosh
which soothed us long before we woke to air
and our first cold slap.