blackbirdonline journalFall 2009  Vol. 8  No. 2
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A Soul Addresses Her Beloved in the Non-Green Zone

Nor did it do me any good to summon
Inspirations for him, with which I called him
In dreams and otherwise, so little he heeded them.

Dante, Purgatorio, Canto 30, lines 133–136
(translated by W.S. Merwin)

That little girl in the surf
is your double—my love,
my enemy—with the difference
of another. Sacred then,
because there she is
when you turn your head,
sovereign, mysterious, good.
Do you see? Not yours.
My grief for you is equal
to the awe I feel for the little girl.
But why?

It is I-as-you, you,
whom you have lost
and cannot find without closing
your eyes, shutting your ears.
I am here on the curb.
No, there in the market.
Not I as you, but ten thousand things
that make you large,
the girl in the doorway, the boy
at his mother’s side.
How to explain?

When I see the hammock 
where I once lay behind your eyes
now filled with swords and holy lines,
I know you’re dying already
inside your loaded body.
I know you’re hosting a party
to which I’m not invited.

I tell you these things as your beloved
in the guise of a stranger
who speaks with a voice that does not rise
any higher than what you hear
in the silence of a snowy field.
Do you hear?

You have replaced me with a poet
who believes that paradise is a heaven
full of virgins singing your name.
I call to you across the hills
to be with me again in an empty room,
blind, deaf, and whole.

It is you I love and miss.
See how human you are in the eyes
of the little girl who regards you with a smile.
See how invisible you are as a man
amidst the crowd.
Are you more angry at me than your enemy?
My constant chatter in the midst of war?
Forgive me. 

You are so distant I can hear my echoes
in the chambers of your bones.
I can feel your thumb on the button
that He has not withheld from you
in all His wisdom.  end

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