Safe Sex

by Donald Hall

If he and she do not know each other, and feel confident

they will not meet again; if he avoids affectionate words;


if she has grown insensible skin under skin; if they desire

only the tribute of another's cry; if they employ each other


as revenge on old lovers or families of entitlement and steel—

then there will be no betrayals, no letters returned unread,


no frenzy, no hurled words of permanent humiliation,

no trembling days, no vomit at midnight, no repeated

apparition of a body floating face-down at the pond's edge

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