It was not sex

I feel that Thom Gunn is an underrated poet these days, certainly he doesn’t seem to receive the attention that his excellent work deserves (but there is an excellent new book on Gunn’s poetry out by Joshua Weiner, which I highly, highly recommend). Get the Collected Poems, published by FSG. Trust me. They are worth your money and time. Below a poem I enjoy a lot.

Thom Gunn: The Hug

It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
Half of the night with our old friend
Who’d showed us in the end
To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.
Already I lay snug,
And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side.

I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,
Suddenly, from behind,
In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:
Your instep to my heel,
My shoulder-blades against your chest.
It was not sex, but I could feel
The whole strength of your body set,
Or braced, to mine,
And locking me to you
As if we were still twenty-two
When our grand passion had not yet
Become familial.
My quick sleep had deleted all
Of intervening time and place.
I only knew
The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.

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