Monday, October 8, 2012
My Desire Is the Region in Front of Me
Mon désir est la région qui est devant moi
—Guillaume Apollinaire, "Desire"
The tuft of black hair on the nape of your neck,
I flare up when I pass you, your back turned to me
as you sit working,
a fusillade of desire,
to kiss you gently in a surprise gesture
that would explode in my face, a transgression
across neutral ground where the unspoken is suddenly
and all that is passion is laid out.
Where nations have boundaries, you
cannot commit yourself so thoughtlessly,
such maneuvers are warsome,
declarations of intentions
when everyone expects restraint.
Why are there trenches between us?
Not a conjugal visit but a touch of affection,
a bit more than a handshake,
but I'll tell you I have deeper feelings than that.
"That the the rice has burned in the camp pot
signifies you have to be careful about many things."
Indeed, I am, about so much,
never allowing myself a moment of pure release,
and why should my release include you?
What you have chosen for yourself I have no idea.
I'm not going to approach you head on because
I would have to alter you somehow, think
of you not as a person but a sumptuous olive,
a fruit field perhaps,
on my enemy's land
I salivate for,
circumvent in my attack so as to
consume upon victory.
But there is no victory here, only people,
you and me.
"There's an enemy submarine that begrudges my love."
Indeed, I begrudge her myself—perhaps
you are not my love but
How uncomfortable I am tracking the course of this battle
only my side is waging and the other
not oblivious to but not about to encounter.
"There are men in the world
who have never been to war,"
and I among them,
a silly romantic,
regulated by deprivation whose desires
have not changed since boyhood.
We can't even negotiate because there is nothing
to divide up.
What is yours you're going to keep, what is mine
is available everywhere.
You assault me with honesty, leaving me helpless.
Your words smother my obsession.
But you confuse cynicism with truth,
and it's impossible for me to clarify.
Indeed, why bother?
I have to remain myself,
and you in your territory to exist.
We'll meet at the borders,
occasionally cross over,
not long enough for a visit
but just for curiosity, titillation,
as if we were passing
each other on an empty street and our eyes met.