We Spoke All Night in Tongues, in Fingertips, in Teeth.



We bought great ornamental oranges,

Mexican cookies, a fragrant yellow tea.

Browsed the bookstores. You

asked mildly, “Bob, who is Ugo Betti?”

A bearded bird-like man

(he looked like a Russian priest

with imperial bearing

and a black ransacked raincoat)

turned to us, cleared

his cultural throat, and

told us both interminably

who Ugo Betti was. The slow

filtering of sun through windows

glazed to gold the silky hair

along your arms. Dusk was

a huge weird phosphorescent beast

dying slowly out across the bay.

Our house waited and our books,

the skinny little soldiers on the shelves.

After dinner I read one anyway.

You chanted, “Ugo Betti has no bones,”

and when I said, “The limits of my language

are the limits of my world,” you laughed.

We spoke all night in tongues,

in fingertips, in teeth.

Robert Haas


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Happy Valentine’s Day