The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 11 no. 2


Christopher Bursk

Irreconcilable Differences


That old married couple, Khrushchev and Eisenhower,
got to bickering again over how often
they could blow up the other, but I had more pressing matters
to deal with: exactly when and where I’d have a chance to
get Sally Hamilton’s blouse unbuttoned
the whole way. For weeks I’d been practicing on a bra I’d stolen
from my mother’s bureau drawer,
and fastened to one dining room chair
while I sat in another and let the right hand work its way down
to the clasp; it took a while: the thumb standing guard,
the index finger at work, liberating
each hook. Eisenhower and Khrushchev could have learned from me
the virtues of delayed gratification. 

If I got an erection just trying it on a dining room chair,
imagine the ecstasy of doing it
with a real girl, stroking an actual nipple.
Should I devote all my attention to both breasts? Or
lavish my affections on one
at a time? Unlike the President I didn’t have an army of advisors.
      When the U-2 went down
and the Soviet Premier carried on like an aggrieved housewife
and Eisenhower started fidgeting
like one more henpecked husband caught cheating
and doing his best
to make it seem like it wasn’t the end of the world,

I had even more complicated negotiations
to see to: how to place one very important part
of my body into an equally important part
of my girl’s body. Talk about the need for diplomacy!
I had my hands full. What did my penis know
of tact, that greedy upstart, that ugly American
determined once again to meddle
in someone else’s internal affairs? I had a weapon
I needed to test, bombs I was tired of
stockpiling, and I intended to drop one wherever
and whenever I could — just to see how much
of an explosion it would make
and if I could survive the blast.