John said “Lookit this” and took from a bag
only a book with a pale blue battered cover
and I said, “So what? Is this some kind of a gag?
Then he showed me the title: Lady Chatterley’s Lover,
and opened it up and pointed his finger at words
which I’d never seen in print except on walls
and some not even there—with a leer and a smirk
John said, “Wow, this book’s really got balls!”
He let me read it, and parts I read more than once,
sometimes pressing it down to repress the result—
those two in the nude doing what I’d never done,
always feeling a penis some kind of fault—
and after I’d slipped the secret back to John
it was harder than ever not to be adult.
Harold Witt has published three collections of poetry: Winesburg by the Sea (Thorp Springs Press, 1979), The Snow Prince Poems and Collages (Blue Unicorn Press, 1982), and American Lit (Ashland Poetry Press, 1994). He is widely regarded as a master of contemporary formalist poetry. (updated 7/2010)