Forbidden Before Marriage | Deborah Bacharach

If you are in the back of his car,
his hands on your ass, your hands
on his shoulders, the delicious curve
of his spine, the world bursting gardenias,
their scent in his sweat—is that sex?

If you watch his toes clutching
the pool’s edge, his heels already
released, the hairs on his legs
a golden mesh in the sun, his body
one sleek line before he dives—is that sex?

When at dusk you enter the park
you knew as a child, adult alone
grasp the swing’s metal chains, pump
your bare legs, head thrown back,
grazing the leaves on the trees—is that sex?

To rise in an Olympic dawn,
evergreens ripping the light, sand rough
on your soles, the waves, salt heavy,
breaching and crashing—is that sex?
I would enter that sacrament. I would not wait.

Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015).  Her work has appeared in Calyx, Literary Mama, Sojourner, Bridges, and 13th Moon among many others.  Find out more about her at


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