David Mura

The Gallery

“I met her at an opening, one of those gallery crawls downtown.
We’re both scrying this photo: three young black girls at a Harlem book fair.
Something in the age of the girls, caught in that liminal moment, still girls

and yet not, chaste, vulnerable, not knowing the flesh they’re approaching.
It’s a risk; I could have picked a more neutral slate (say
the mahogany Gabon statues or the hand painted sign, I am an uppity Negro).

Still we’re both white, bending to these photos. We share that space.
I recall at a certain point, she lifted her hand to her hair.
Touched it, just slightly. Almost a caress. And then she gazed

across the room, towards a waiter bearing a tray of fluted glasses.
I asked if she wanted some champagne. She nodded.
Do you know the artist? she asked. Still not looking at me…

It can happen in so many ways. Say in some moment of letting go,
she slaps you. Or you slap her. Well, that’s easy, that’s not so interesting.
But if you start to talk about that slap, what lies beneath,

coiled in your psyche, that voice inside you whispering
even as the two of you jostle in the sheets, naked in the aftermath,
your jaw quivering, almost giggling, edging toward another realm.

Of course with her it wasn’t slapping. Or at least literally.
Not that I could tell right off. After all the first time we fucked,
she kept her shirt on. And I liked that. Knew it wasn’t modesty,

keeping some of herself hidden, unrevealed. In reserve.
And it’s scary then, a little, once you realize there’s more
and you don’t know where that ends….

I mean, at a certain point I realized I really didn’t know women.
Oh, I’d been told how they are, how they view it so differently
and perhaps that’s true for many—maybe most--women.

But there are women not only like us but more so.
Who’ve discovered it within themselves, set their id
to run amok, and as they say, what’s good for the goose….

Face it: Despite our professed fantasies, it’s hard for one man
to satisfy two women, much less three, four, much less nine, twelve.
We’re not built like that. But a woman. Well, certain women.

I admit it scares me, sometimes. I’ll look at her
and wonder where that demon arose from;
she’s snapping her jaws, she’s growling, thrusting

and writhing, ordering it on, and I know, I know
she could go beyond me. Way beyond.
I mean, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen her do it….Amazing really.

At the gallery, back in the beginning, she sported
this simple black dress. White pearls. Black high-heeled boots.
And the little girls in the photo stared at us like the three

sisters, those the ancients dubbed the goddesses of fate.
And me? Even then I’m leaning into it, that moment
you suddenly know the path which reveals

who you truly are.”