Poetry Wednesday – “The Kiss” by Anne Sexton from the anthology intimate kisses: The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure, edited by Wendy Maltz
from The Dance of the Lunatic, page 12
כָּל לַיְלָה אֲנְי אַבְּיעַ לָךְ אֶת אַהֲבָתִי
אַתְּ תַּבְטִיחִי לִי שֶׁלֹּא תַּעַזְבִינִי לנֶצַח
אֲנִי אֲהַרְהֵר מְעַט עַל מַשְׁמָעוּת הַדְּבָרִים
וּבֵינְתַיִם אַחֲלִיק אֶת לֶחְיִי בִּכָרִית בִּטְנֵךְ הָרַכָּה
Shez, The Dance of the Lunatic, page 12
(untitled: every night I will pour out)
translated by Elliott batTzedek
Every night I’ll pour out my love to you
You’ll promise to not ever leave me
I’ll meditate a little on the meaning of these words
and meanwhile slide my cheek across the the pillow of your soft belly
from Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poems of Dahlia Ravikovitch, translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld. I’ve been reading Ravikovitch because she is essential to reading other contemporary Israeli women poets, like, I guess, knowing Adrienne Rich is here. Everyone knows her work, everyone refers to it in some way, or has it in the background, constant commentary on or counterpoint to their own work. And some of her poems are just breathtaking! I only wish the book had the Hebrew originals so I could learn more about how these two masterful translators dealt with language issues as they went along.
Even rocks crack, I tell you,
and not on account of age.
For years they lie on their backs in the cold and the heat,
so many years,
it almost creates the impression of calm.
They don’t move, so the cracks can hide.
A kind of pride.
Years pass over them as they wait.
Whoever is going to shatter them
hasn’t come yet.
And so the moss flourishes, the seaweed is cast about,
the sea bursts out and slides back,
and it seems the rocks are perfectly still.
Till a little seal comes to rub against them,
comes and goes.
And suddenly the stone has an open wound.
I told you, when rocks crack, it happens by surprise.
Not to mention people.
I call my Beloved Asah, meaning:
a cool spring day, the sun
flowing warm on my belly
new grass dew washing
winter from my back,
writhing and wriggling,
flinging my fine four legs
free as falling whirlybirds,
while the world waits,
breath held, for
me to rise and run
She was one I once
loved. ¾ of lyric
poetry comes next.
Author’s confession – this was, at first, a several page long pathetic whining love-lost poem-like object. The point of lyric poetry being to describe the emotional flash, and not the narrative, I cut it down to only the last two lines, which serve quite well to tell everything that needs to be told and are considerably less embarrassing.
When you took me down
you placed 1 pomegranate seed
on my tongue
sweet sweet blood I begged
then for the 5 still in hand
When you offered me
6 more I offered you my
breasts you crushed seeds in your teeth
licked until my nipples
Thus I came to owe you 1 year
The next 12 seeds I hid in the lips
of my clear-cut vulva lay awaiting
discovery of this promised 2nd year
60 seeds you slid into my
vagina then fucked me as no one ever had
sweet sweet blood running
made me virgin yours
5 years owed a down payment towards
the 1200 seeds I smashed to dye
my wedding dress sweet sweet blood red
swinging through our Descension Capoeira
half the guests jealous half, appalled
with a nod to poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil, whose “At Medusa’s Hair Salon” I read before falling asleep last night, sending my mind into the realm of Greek myth such that the outline of this poem came to me and got scrawled on paper before I fell asleep. Don’t miss her excellent At the Drive-In Volcano.
Neither divine nor rare, perhaps unexpected,
rarely unearned, Grace
is our brightest courage shone back at us.
She learned to trust by trusting the horse
hurtling both of them over fences and walls.
And when Rosie died, she found, in her grief, she was
not alone. Rosie’s friends, people who came to the pasture,
people she had never suspected, stopped their cars to say
I’m sorry, she was so beautiful, we loved her.
Grace, too, is how the cumulative weight of these
awkward laundry baskets of bricks grief thrusts
into arms after arms is lighter
than gravity’s unbearable bulk each, separately,
knows could not be borne.
So light it can come to shine out
nearly as brightly as spring sunshine
on a chestnut mare’s back.
Megan Waterman, 22; Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25; and Amber Lynn Costello, 27
vanished drew little or no notice—prospect of a serial killer
four more bodies—that changed
Shannan Gilbert, 24, a prostitute but much more
aspiring actress oldest daughter of Mari Gilbert
Mari Gilbert said police failed to take her seriously until
Long Island’s latest serial-killer case
Look at them: throwaway, margins, anonymous, addiction,
invisible, vulnerable, prey
[average age girls enter prostitution: 13]
estrangement from their families
[57% of prostitutes report sexual abuse as children,
by an average of 3 perpetrators]
Joel Rifkin, an unemployed landscaper, 17 prostitutes
Robert Shulman, a former postal worker, 5 prostitutes
Kendall L. Francois, 8 prostitutes
Gary Ridgway, 48 prostitutes:
Evidence: brush and grassy dunes, bodies of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of murdered prostitutes — women, men and transgender people
Message: “They should be very careful with their contacts”
On today’s Writer’s Almanac I found this wonderful love letter from Vita to Virginia, January 21st, 1926. It’s so easy to believe, as we invent and re-invent love and being lesbian, that we are New In The World. Granted, love may FEEL ever-new, but this speaks to me and for me in an immediate, right now, I yearn for how they yearned for each other way. Go Vita! Win your girl’s heart! We’re all rooting for you!
Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Wolf, Jan 21st, 1926:
“I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this — But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it.
My love for you is not metaphorical
I love you like the moon loves the sun,
I love you like the desert loves the night,
love you like the honey loves the bear
love you like the tree loves the chair,
love you like the hand loves the sleight.
I love you like the shore loves the hurricane
love you like the signal loves the moving train.
I love you like Hollywood loves love at first sight,
love you like New Jersey loves New York
love you like the swan loved Bjork,
love you like the vampire is loved by the bite.
I love you like Peter loved the pumpkin shell
love you like gravity loves rappel,
love you like love poems love the trite.
I love you like a star loves the universe,
love you like the body loves the hearse.
I love you like Lutherans love uptight,
love you like yeshiva bochers love payis,
love you like Evangelicals love to save us,
love you like Baptists love to smite.
I love you, Love, like love loves love,
love you like the hawk loves the dove,
love you like every little thing is gonna be alright.
I love you like the habit loves the nun,
I love you like the moon loves the sun.