I can't tell the difference anymore
between what I want and why I want it:
the white, clapboard house in the country
or the husband and children
who wait on its porch; a man with a truck
or our frank heterosexuality. Hunger
hasn't gotten a very good name around here.
And when I do get what I want—
constellations unfurled in one loose rag,
Orion's little, three-hole-punch belt
accompanying each of my first kisses—
it never seems to be enough.
What is it the experts say about desire?
It is not an appetite: it is essentially insatiable.
I want to be a woman held by a man
who stands on the long, metal back of a suspension bridge
lit by a barrel-chested moon. Romance
doesn't begin to describe the kind of tenderness
that can take a brave man—one who has fired a gun,
who knows the frets and grooves
of persistent calluses, who wears a scar that winks
like a pale, forgotten star on his cheek—
and make it impossible for him to touch me.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Keeje Kuipers is a native of the Northwest. She earned her BA at Swarthmore College and her MFA at the University of Oregon. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Oregon Literary Arts, and Soapstone, as well as awards from Atlanta Review and Nimrod. In 2007, she was the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident, which provided her with seven months of solitude in Oregon's Rogue River Valley where she composed work that has been published in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, The Southeast Review, and Willow Springs, among others. Kuipers teaches writing at the University of Montana and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She divides her time between San Francisco and Missoula where she lives with her dog, Bishop. "Desire" was published in Kuipers' collection, Beautiful in the Mouth.