Erica Jong |
All the endings in my life
rise up against me
like that sea of troubles
like Vikings in their boats
to my fate.
I know beginnings,
but I do not know
I do not know
the sweet demi-boredom
of life as it lingers,
of man and wife
regarding each other
across a table of shared witnesses,
of the hand-in-hand dreams
of those who have slept
a half-century together
in a bed so used and familiar
it is rutted
I would know that
before this life closes,
a soulmate to share my roses--
I would make a spell
with long grey beard hairs
and powdered rosemary and rue,
with the jacket of a tux
for a tall man
with broad shoulders,
who loves to dance;
with one blue contact lens
for his bluest eyes;
with honey in a jar
for his love of me;
with salt in a dish
for his love of sex and skin;
with crushed rose petals
for our bed;
with tubes of cerulean blue
and vermilion and rose madder
for his artist's eye;
with a dented Land-Rover fender
for his love of travel;
with a poem by Blake
for his love of innocence
revealed by experience;
with soft rain
and a bare head;
with hand-in-hand dreams on Mondays
and the land of ****
with mangoes, papayas
and a house towering
above the sea.
Muse, I surrender
Thy will be done,
If this love spell
send me this lover,
this dancing partner
for my empty bed
and let him fill me
until I die.
I offer my bones,
my luck with roses,
and the secret garden
I have found
walled in my center,
and the sunflower
who raises her head
despite her heavy seeds.
I am ready now, Muse,
to serve you faithfully
a graceful dancing partner--
for I have learned
to stand alone.
Give me your blessing.
Let the next
epithalamion I write
be my own.
And let it last
more than the years
of my life--
and without the least
two lovers bareheaded
in a summer rain.
Charles Simic |
John of the Cross wore dark glasses
As he passed me on the street.
Theresa of Avila, beautiful and grave,
Turned her back on me.
"Soulmate," they hissed.
"It's high time.
I was a blind child, a wind-up toy .
I was one of death's juggling red balls
On a certain street corner
Where they peddle things out of suitcases.
The city like a huge cinema
With lights dimmed.
The performance already started.
So many blurred faces in a complicated plot.
The great secret which kept eluding me: knowing who I am .
The Redeemer and the Virgin,
Their eyes wide open in the empty church
Where the killer came to hide himself .
The new snow on the sidewalk bore footprints
That could have been made by bare feet.
Some unknown penitent guiding me.
In truth, I didn't know where I was going.
My feet were frozen,
My stomach growled.
Four young hoods blocking my way.
Three deadpan, one smiling crazily.
I let them have my black raincoat.
Thinking constantly of the Divine Love
and the Absolute had disfigured me.
People mistook me for someone else.
I heard voices after me calling out unknown names.
"I'm searching for someone to sell my soul to,"
The drunk who followed me whispered,
While appraising me from head to foot.
At the address I had been given.
The building had large X's over its windows.
I knocked but no one came to open.
By and by a black girl joined me on the steps.
She banged at the door till her fist hurt.
Her name was Alma, a propitious sign.
She knew someone who solved life's riddles
In a voice of an ancient Sumerian queen.
We had a long talk about that
While shivering and stamping our wet feet.
It was necessary to stay calm, I explained,
Even with the earth trembling,
And to continue to watch oneself
As if one were a complete stranger.
Once in Chicago, for instance,
I caught sight of a man in a shaving mirror
Who had my naked shoulders and face,
But whose eyes terrified me!
Two hard staring, all-knowing eyes!
After we parted, the night, the cold, and the endless walking
Brought on a kind of ecstasy.
I went as if pursued, trying to warm myself.
There was the East River; there was the Hudson.
Their waters shone like oil in sanctuary lamps.
Something supreme was occurring
For which there will never be any words.
The sky was full of racing clouds and tall buildings,
Whirling and whirling silently.
In that whole city you could hear a pin drop.
I thought I heard a pin drop and I went looking for it.