Saturn Rings about the Alhambra
When you passed out on my bed
Thus becoming one of my savage dreams
In the gardens of Spain, your skin like
Black coffee, coñac with the oranges of
Valencia a heady aroma about you ---
I pretended not to be in love with every
Turn of your body. It would not do,
Not do for you to feel the rheum and
Snake-veins curled up next to you.
You later claimed that you had waked
Beside yourself to find yourself
Drunk in my bed; you said it was
Through no fault of your own.
I asked politely if you had visited
The Escorial just down the way,
To view the sunsets. Violent, they were.
You gave me three days and two nights.
I slept next to you alongside a thousand
Thousand lilies-of-the-valley blowing;
There was a festive explosion of monsoons
And volcanoes tracing along my various fault-lines.
Did I mention it was gracious of you to say
Nothing about my sciatical groans, and
My many momentitos de tristeza? And at times
During my slow diurnals, you would
Kindly pretend to be dead-
to- the- world.
"That's not it at all, at all," you said as you
Pulled on pants and a wrinkled plastic shirt
(Turquoise, with a circle of twisting vines).
I had been wetting my yellow pillow,
Trying to hide in my hope (and my palsy).
"You know I'll be back in no time. Besides,
In love we take no hostages, right, Yank?"
You always called me "Yank." As in chains.
I think you were beginning to smell the ashes,
Feel the mandrake roots creeping up your
Tanned and seamless thighs. All the while
I think you were trying to remember my name.
"Swann," I said, six to nine times. "The bird.
The one that stays faithful to its mate. Forever."
"Love," you said, zipping up your denims,
Stamping out a Faro with your bare toes.
"Taking hostages," you said. "That's rich.
Did you write that, Yank? In a poem, Yank?"
I set my hand (fingers bent this way and that)
On your shoulder. You leaned towards me,
I thought there would be ... a what? Un golpe
De amor. But then perhaps you heard my catarrh,
And suddenly you were clattering down
The spiral staircase.
I thought on the rings
The thin and bitter rings of Saturn. Such beauty.
Captured in such a cold round in space. Some-
Place out there where they would never let us reach.
--- C. A. Swann