August 15 – “The Discovery of Sex” Debra Spencer

Wednesday, August 15 “Our parents look on in disbelief
as we pioneer delights they thought only they knew
before those delights gave them us.”

Perhaps I like this Debra Spencer poem the way I like several other of her poems. Or perhaps because the next generation of my family now pulses with parenting energy focussed on yet another generation; I love all three generations and enjoy them immensely. My niece, Terry, emailed me from Paris this morning, reminding me of her first time there when I was the middle generation, she and her sister on one end and my mother on the other. I didn’t just carry suitcases and drive our car though; I listened to my mom admiring and mumbling about her granddaughters both electrified by Paris with generous hearts and spirits but finding the Left Bank shops more revelatory than the centuries of Notre Dame cathedral’s life span. I traveled around with and listened to my two nieces in what I still remember as a wonderful 3-Gen living journey. Now, this week, Terry and her husband watch their children, alive with discovery.

Debra Spencer gets it about such essential humanity across generations, our human capacity for wonder and discovery as well as embarrassment. Bet to read the poem out loud, with pauses. Have a blest Wednesday.

john sj

Poem: “The Discovery of Sex” by Debra Spencer, from Pomegranate. © Hummingbird Press. Reprinted with permission.

The Discovery of Sex

We try to be discreet standing in the dark
hallway by the front door. He gets his hands
up inside the front of my shirt and I put mine
down inside the back of his jeans. We are crazy
for skin, each other’s skin, warm silky skin.
Our tongues are in each other’s mouths,
where they belong, home at last. At first

we hope my mother won’t see us, but later we don’t care,
we forget her. Suddenly she makes a noise
like a game show alarm and says Hey! Stop that!
and we put our hands out where she can see them.
Our mouths stay pressed together, though, and
when she isn’t looking anymore our hands go
back inside each other’s clothes. We could

go where no one can see us, but we are
good kids, from good families, trying to have
as much discreet sex as possible with my mother and father
four feet away watching strangers kiss on TV,
my mother and father who once did as we are doing,
something we can’t imagine because we know

that before we put our mouths together, before
the back seat of his parents’ car where our skins
finally become one-before us, these things
were unknown! Our parents look on in disbelief
as we pioneer delights they thought only they knew
before those delights gave them us.

Years later, still we try to be discreet, standing
in the kitchen now where we think she can’t see us. I
slip my hands down inside the back of his jeans
and he gets up under the front of my shirt.
We open our mouths to kiss and suddenly Hey! Hey!
says our daughter glaring from the kitchen doorway.
Get a room! she says, as we put our hands
out where she can see them.

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