Alyse Knorr

In Which We First Explain Human Sex to Our Friends

Recreational, too, in a way limited to ourselves 
and to dolphins, also politicized and—trigger warning—
weaponized, criminalized, bought and sold,
begun, ended, interrupted. An olden-days 
euphemism for genitals, a girl on the playground
in the third grade whispering why she doesn’t
ever want to marry. We sent you the photos,
didn’t you get them? Workers, education, addict,
industry, guide. Suffixes: -y, -uality, -ist, -ism, 
in order of best to worst. Same, safe, hot, rough. 
Where should we begin? Two boys in a car, 
fumbling with belts. We each begin somewhere new.


On The Anatomy And Physiology of Our Friends

Our first instinct to probe their bodies,
schedule various -scopies and exams 
to see if the “me” of ourselves matched 
the “me” of their flesh. 

They politely declined, of course, 
dropping their eyes in quiet shame
for us. Outside, Marine brigades 
and helicopters pranced like 

Cortez’s cavalry before the Aztecs.
The field notes read “non-compliant,”
“refused,” “denied.” The field notes
scrawled in shaky red ink. 

But when they touched us lightly
on the tops of our hands, the way
our mothers once did—a comfort
that blanketed us even as we asked

them again and again to disrobe,
to say “ah”—we knew then exactly 
how they admired our bodies 
in their own private way—how 

they treated us like a cavern,
beautiful because it has never been 
entered, draped in cold, breathing rock 
and a lake so still it is its own mirror.

Alyse Knorr

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Alyse Knorr

Alyse Knorr is the author of Annotated Glass (Furniture Press Books, 2013). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in RHINO, Sentence, Puerto Del Sol, The Portland Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, among others. She received her MFA from George Mason University and is the co-founder of Gazing Grain Press. Visit her at