“She Resists, But Barely” by Rhina Espaillat

Look at the state of wild undress you’ve caught
me in, Poem, lying about, with all
the housework still untouched! God knows I’ve fought
you–but how hard? Or did I mean to fall,
and leave my thoughts unclothed, indolent out
of guile, my mind unlocked, so you could slip
right in and find me? That’s what you’re about,
I know: seduction, your insidious lip
pressed to my ear. I ought to sew and cook;
I ought to sweep and wash; I ought to dust.
But you have stirred my dust instead, and look
how duty yields to my peculiar lust,
your silky promise of some further bliss,
and not a thing to cover me but this.

Courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

Courtesy of poetryfoundation.org

Rhina P. Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932. She has lived in the United States since 1939 and taught high school English in New York City for several years. Espaillat writes poetry and prose both in English and in her native Spanish. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Lyric, Poetry, Sparrow, Orbis, The Formalist, and The American Scholar, as well as some forty anthologies. Espaillat has eight poetry collections in print, including Where Horizons Go, which won the 1998 T. S. Eliot Prize; Rehearsing Absence, which won the 2001 Richard Wilbur Award; and most recently, Playing at Stillness. In 2004 she became the first winner of the Tree at My Window Award from the Robert Frost Foundation for her Spanish translations of Robert Frost and her English translations of Saint John of the Cross and César Sánchez Beras. That same year she also received the Dominican Republic’s Salome Ureña de Henríquez Award for service to Dominican culture and education.