Ruth Padel

For Don and Chris
who asked me to check the genitive
of clitoris

not in Greek, which is easy, but Latin.
I’m trying standard dictionaries

in three languages
for that sleek particular satin-
ness of skin,

homologue of penis, male,
present in the OED

as rudimentary
organ in

the female
of many of the higher vertebrata,
found in all and any Carnivora,

nub (you might say)
of all those ravaged strata

of what we think about each other
our hit and miss way,
as illustrated from the Torah

to Pop Chic.
Don, sorry, those Romans, glib

though they were, and clearly
knew how to do it
(back of a chariot’s

not that much different
from back of a Buick)

I don’t think they knew it,
that felt-tip, stylus, nib:
unless their handmaids whispered it in Greek.