Christopher Cessac

Eve, Missouri

Shortness of breath, quickening heart—
language falls short, sex never looks good

on paper. O ye gentle retired bureaucrats,
disgruntled playgirls, whistleblowing-wanna-be

toadies, join my song. For we have loved
both youth and style—the usual

mistakes of our time. The Latter Day Saints
may be right: the Garden of Eden is in Missouri

if it’s anywhere. Frozen for months, for months
hot as anywhere. Only the cruelest beauty for us.

Brutal and graceless youth, we know so little
of pleasure. So much pleasure is lost on us.

Snakebite, blizzard, cancer, head-on collision:
how many reasons does love need? Desire

is fig leaves, the unknown. Familiar fruits
can satisfy at times but never wholly satisfy

our longing for complaint. To separate
darkness from light requires light and darkness.

Endless pleasant weather—who could bear that?
Ask any retired prime mover or romantic

meteorologist, the importance of storms, collisions,
of fevers and bites, something, not too much,

just enough to pique desire—
if such a thing can be measured.