Only by the grace of her suggestion—

she’d been looking for a bra anyway—

and believing men must feign nonchalance

as if we ourselves purchased lingerie,

I shrugged off the trip as of no importance

so that she could indulge my intention.


Like my Beatrice among laced panties

I was led through a scattering of light,

encircled by the Primum Mobile

navigating God—rayon slips upright

on hangers, spinning on wheels, an aisle

of wood bureaus and negligee marquees—


in love not like the first time but after,

in love in time to appreciate her,

young together but thank God not too young,

no longer pretentious, anxious, unsure—

she, leading me to where the plush bras hung

by the straps, critiqued their stiff underwire—


not too young that she would only invite

me to her room to see that camisole

but held it up in the store, the sheer gown,

asking whether I’d enjoy it at all,

her torso wearing the latticed hem like a crown.

Oh, neither was I too old to excite.

R. Charboneau

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