Spring 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 2 Poetry |

Decorum

She wrote, "They were making love up against the gymnasium wall," and another young woman in class, serious enough to smile, said "No, that's fucking, they must have been fucking," to which many agreed, pleased to have the proper fit of word with act. But an older woman, a wife, a mother, famous in the class for confusing grace with decorum and carriage, said the F-word would distract the reader, sensationalize the poem. "Why can't what they were doing just as easily be called making love?" It was an intelligent complaint, and the class proceeded to debate what's fucking, what's making love, and the importance of context, tact, the bon mot. I leaned toward those who favored fucking; they were funnier and seemed to have more experience with the happy varieties of their subject. But then a young man said, now believing he had permission, "What's the difference, you fuck 'em and you call it making love; you tell 'em what they want to hear." The class jeered, and

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