Writing in the mid twentieth century, May Swenson remains too little known; Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Marianne Moore absorb the oxygen, I suppose, for you can’t have more than one discussion about a female poet at a time.
“Sleeping Boa,” published posthumously, is one of her unabashed homosexual love poems.
I show her how to put her arms around me,
but she’s much too small.
What’s worse, she doesn’t understand.
although she lies beside me, sticking
out her tongue, it’s herself she licks.
She likes my stroking hand.
even lets me kiss.
But at my demand:
“Now, do it to me, like this,”
she backs off with a hiss.
What’s in her little mind?
Jumping off the bed,
she shows me her behind,
but curls up on the rug instead.
I beg her to return. At first, she did,
then went and hid
under the covers. She’s playing with my feet!
“Oh, Boa, come back. Be sweet,
Lie against me here where I’m nice and warm.
Settle down. Don’t claw, don’t bite.
Stay with me tonight.”
Seeming to consent, she gives a little whine.
Her deep, deep pupils meet mine
with a look that holds a flood …
But not my brand.
Not at all.
what‘s worse, she’s much too small.