The first time I ever kissed a girl
on a couch, what struck me
most was not elation or desire
but the abrupt realization
that other human beings have mass
and fluids and upper lip hair
and probably feelings.
I was not a hot air balloon
drifting to cloud nine
but Wile E. Coyote, somehow surprised
by the consequences of gravity
and by my sobering reunion with the earth—
dumb, dumbstruck, awestruck, floored.
Straightening myself out,
I growled with a renewed hunger
to be wrong again, foiled again.
When I met Wendell Berry, the first thing
the old man did was explain his humanity
to a room of us gibbering fanboys,
climbing down from a pedestal
he'd ascended by "embarrassing" himself.
We talked and ate potato chips and then Wendell
and his hearing aids and his raincoat
climbed into his truck and went home.
Coming down, coming down,
like Lance Armstrong getting caught,
like beautiful women farting in stairwells,
like the time that journalist
saw Mister Rogers naked;
Pinocchio, the Velveteen Rabbit,
Jesus the pooping baby
born in a shitty stable: always,
always the divine and the abstract
gravitate to flesh.
Did it hurt?
—when you fell from heaven?
It looks like it hurt. You look worse
for wear, honey, to be frank,
and you know I am.
Most humans wouldn't survive
a fall from that height.
Yet you're here
and you seem to be alive.
Look, we both know by now
you're as prone as any human
to be full of crap,
to extrude crap,
to disappoint me—but
there is this:
While I worshiped you before
as the goddess of a concept,
here on the ground
your moles are angelic
and your scars are divine.
My mind journeys down into my body,
finally consenting to take these hands
in marriage, these feet in marriage.
In difficult marriage, troubling marriage,
my insatiable tongue takes real food,
my ever-disappointed heart takes real friends
and vows at least to be disappointed
by the same humans every day.
Beyond that, anything I catch
is a tasty surprise.