The Undercover Man

Before the normal barriers

get erected, and silence

takes on a texture,

and our secrets grow

 

like mold in a basement,

I want you to know I believe

in the kind of transparency

that gets me what I want.

 

Why would I tell you this?

Because women like you

find even a semblance of honesty

irresistible. I will listen with what

 

appears to be intense interest

to everything you say.

I’ll look into your eyes

as if they contained mysteries,

 

something vaguely coral

and deep. I’m the kind of man

who will not touch you

without permission, ostensibly

 

considerate, terribly polite

in public. At some point

you’ll take my hand and place it

where it will feel especially invited.

 

Or you won’t. It doesn’t matter;

what I love are the preliminaries,

the seeing what, the great if.

Your wise friends are likely to warn

 

you about me. But you won’t listen

because you’ll recognize I’m the mask

behind the face, as close to the truth

as you’re likely to get.

 

And I’ll have opened my good ear

to you. I trust that you’ll think it —

like the ones before you have —

as a passageway to the heart.

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