Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Map of Amsterdam

The Map of Amsterdam


What does love search for
if not to grow wings
and become a hermaphrodite.
Is it not the obsession of the loved one
to burn your summer
until you cook like escargot and die?

(I was kneeling in front of him,
my mouth on his hardness.
His knees trembled and swayed.
When I looked up
his eyes were closed
and he asked:  Do you love me?)

Love, immobile happiness
of the swamp.

Who was he to my intimate places
to ask me that discomforting question?
Did his wings carry the same dark dirt
as my map.  Had he found my scent in Paris
and lost me in the canals of Amsterdam?
Had he found that place in me— 
the where
where he could always return?


ii.

I had fallen in love with a man
who had a name to protect.
I shut myself up in the bedroom for days
buried under shame.

Friends brought me look-a-likes,
but it only made me smell of bitter sweat
and dead gardenias.

I’d listen to them speak
as if from a far distance, eyelids heavy,
like stones swollen with salty wetness,
cheeks flushed as if with fever.

After a while, they’d find a hollow place
inside themselves and crouched there
until the storm around me abated.

Then I’d sing spirituals and tell stories
of birds and people with thin hearts.

Meanwhile the man with a name to protect
would walk around the city punching
every glass window he could find

until he’d reach my house. Friends
would let him in. He’d sit on the edge
of my bed and trace his finger across the recess
of my ass. Everyone in the room would disappear
and leave the two of us together. No one ever
heard us talk— 
two men
above            
time and space.

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