I woke and did what I do with her and she with me.
I have known so few women. They were each one my love.
She knew far more men, she never confused sex with love.
Sun shivering the lake like one body another.
We are becoming old. What was it like to be young?
Who will remember? It is enough to have survived
to remember, how could there be any greater gift?
The lake feels like a river tonight, I remember
saying, and she placed my hand between her legs, said, There’s
where it flows. In that first year together, we made love
to make a child. It did not happen. She went elsewhere,
to be with other men, any one of whom she thought
would let her forget, I do not know how to say it
otherwise. She believed my body made her fallow.
Fucking is joy and also she lets me love this life,
of all the others the one who cares for my worn soul,
who once learned all she needed to know with male strangers
and after that came back to become my odalisque.
You should be so lucky, the mirror likes to reply:
She is her own houri. We occupy a country
whose laws I refuse to learn, where I know I will die.
If she was not the first she will be my last lover.
There is no need so great as mine for her olive skin.
Her words hover in her hive like laughter and honey.
She was desire itself caught in a tangle of men.
She chose each one. A man here, a man there, and nowhere
but on my boat did she find the life to come back to
and when I cut the moorings we floated out to sea.
And here we live on dry land next to a lake of fish
in our fifty-first year to heaven, reeling them in,
cleaning out the heart’s dead parts and preparing the sand
for a feast. It could be Mexico or Hawaii,
I in one place, she in the other. If you took her,
she took you; wherever the sun was we would be there,
don’t ask me how. It’s not in the cards or in the stars.
(10 July 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander