Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Persepolis

Per-Verse Pleasure 3

The Cinnamon Peeler's Wife
Michael Ondaatje

If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler's wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
– your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers…

When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.
and knew
what good is it
to be the lime burner's daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

Per-Verse Pleasure 2

For the Stranger

Carolyn Forché

 

Although you mention Venice

keeping it on your tongue like a fruit pit

and I say yes, perhaps Bucharest, neither of us

really knows. There is only this train

slipping through pastures of snow,

a sleigh reaching down

to touch its buried runners.

We meet on the shaking platform,

the wind's broken teeth sinking into us.

You unwrap your dark bread

and share with me the coffee

sloshing into your gloves.

Telegraph posts chop the winter fields

into white blocks, in each window

the crude painting of a small farm.

We listen to mothers scolding

children in English as if

we do not understand a word of it–

sit still, sit still.

 

There are few clues as to where

we are: the baled wheat scattered

everywhere like missing coffins.

The distant yellow kitchen lights

wiped with oil.

Everywhere the black dipping wires

stretching messages from one side

of a country to the other.

The men who stand on every border

waving to us.

 

Wiping ovals of breath from the windows

in order to see ourselves, you touch

the glass tenderly wherever it holds my face.

Days later, you are showing me

photographs of a woman and children

smiling from the windows of your wallet.

 

Each time the train slows, a man

with our faces in the gold buttons

of his coat passes through the cars

muttering the name of a city. Each time

we lose people. Each time I find you

again between the cars, holding out

a scrap of bread for me, something

hot to drink, until there are

no more cities and you pull me

toward you, sliding your hands

into my coat, telling me

your name over and over, hurrying

your mouth into mine.

We have, each of us, nothing.

We will give it to each other.

Per-verse Pleasure 1

Having a Coke with You
Frank O'Hara

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, IrĂșn, Hendaye, Biarritz,
     Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier
     St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for
     yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and
     statuary
it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything
     as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front
     of it
in the warm New York 4 o'clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in
     the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it's
     in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven't gone to yet so we can go together
     the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care
     of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that
     used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when
     the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider
     as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you
     about it