Love: After Neruda’s Sonnet XXXIII
Florica walks behind Inspector, to home where she’s not
at-home. Children’s eyes and begonias meet
her here, on this threshold, waiting
for her to give them chocolate, water.
Her crushed velvet skirts have followed
his silver through tracts, across karst; Carpathia, Kiev,
Berlin. Now here, to eternal damp and clouded
summers and loved masonry.
He sees the amber of the sun
in her kitchen eyes at day’s end; she’s
a building that flies without buttress.
He lets her make coffee and listens
to her laugh peal in time to the
boiling water, bells in unison.
Anwar and Pierre flew to the
university town on this damp
island at the edge of Europe two
months ago. Zarabe and gros blanc,
they are a marbled unit, lines blurred.
She is too cold, he rubs life back into
her but she’s not singing any more
Creole love songs because the fruit
here is so shit, she says. She watches
droplets of condensation on the window
with an intent that is also a portent. He
goes out to the chilly garden to play with
that damn cat and it’s too-beautiful owner.
Is a poem I read, once, about a
girl hitting her head, in the dark. But
more than the discomfort of sharing
rooms, is the discomfiture that’s got a
rind of dis-ease. Empty rooms; silence,
and you left the back door open on an
August night. Further into the forest now,
than a teen mom with one cute accessory,
there is a gaggle to protect. And, of course,
yourself. Alone with no tribe, in the dark.
Draw this beak, this jaw. It can
susurrate, masticate, oscillate, fellate, well
assist with at least. It forms a well-rounded
chin, which you stick out when petulant or
guarded or inquisitive. Never slack, except
for on one side, the left, which betrays your
emotion. Gristle inside, temporomandibular
tantrum. Too much talking, moil in sleep,
lopsided feelings. You need to speak, write,
execute what is inside, balance the blue
throat chakra. When you walk past trees it
relaxes; tightens in the car, under the duress
of traffic and all the spineclimbing aggravations
the stress, the grubwork of teeth, of gears. Lying
on sand can wrap this Hermes-in-the-bones
around on itself. Also hot stones, aromas and
the hands of others sliding along the lines of
para-sympathetic systems, slackening, the
opposite of nervous. Once, a criminal caressed
it, gently and unexpectedly. Out shot colours
from your crown, six or seven weeks. Limning
your outlines, a shaman from the wrong side but
all was yellow then, a clear river. Cock your head
now, cup it in your own hand, remember to choose
to rest. Bird, be free. Sing, speak, sleep.
A Belgian town
Skirts the diamond capital, but almost all here go without
work. A man is released. Approaches the media, lace windows
will bleed long after the media scrum. My brothers were acting
normally, he says. Mother is devastated, we are peaceful people.
He burns, shame flaming, pin-pricking down to the
moons at his fingertips. Another time, it’s the emerald
place, wartime. Teenage son and two comrades, caught.
A bomb on a bike, propped at the wall of a garda station.
A detective on his way to work flings the
danger into the river. Hard labour, refusing
to recognize the State. Imaginable tragedy.
Avoided at the eleventh hour. An Irish city
during the Emergency. An almost-man, imprisoned
with Thomas Aquinas, repentant, alive.
“Love: After Neruda’s Sonnet XXXIII” and other poems are © Ingrid Casey