This guy, Lev, at the dinner party said,
If you don’t want your kids to have sex, don’t finish the basement.
I don’t remember anything anymore, my fifty-two-year-old brain a
soggy piece of kale,
but I remembered what Lev said.
It’s because Lev is the heart in levov
where all the stories come from.
Here’s the story: we were eating the salmon and he was talking about
all grown up,
and my kids were in the basement playing ping pong,
not yet thirteen.
There was beer and wine and gluten-free challah and gluten-free Tiramisu
and the walls were red and gluten-free.
That’s the whole story.
The other story is that when a guy says something like that
you have to remember where you were when you first had sex.
It could have been in a car, in an attic, between two trees, under the moon,
near the factory, inside the deep blue sea, in the onion patch.
Sex is an onion.
It’s translucent and sweet and will make you cry your face off.
It’s a swimming pool on fire and a gorilla who knows how to speak
If you are lucky enough to have sex in a finished basement,
this is a good thing.
If you have sex in an unfinished basement, not so good—all that dust,
those exposed water heaters, boilers, and rusted rakes.
So when Lev said,
If you don’t want your kids to have sex, don’t finish the basement,
I took a bite of my salmon and here’s the last part of the story.
My kids are going to grow up and have sex.
A sad and wide-eyed, ecstatic sex, if they’re lucky,
and so I left the table in the dark middle of winter to finish the basement—
buy some rugs, some cheap pillows, and a jukebox,
one of those old school Wurlitzers with the automatic eye.
Fill it up with all the songs that make your heart burst, I will tell them.
Play your music
till the needle runs those records bare bone beauty and glisten.
Copyright © 2020 Matthew Lippman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.