Saturday, November 22, 2008


I listened to you play a Chinese tune on your recorder. It curled up at the ends in strange, mournful ways. It was to go with the poems you're translating, you said.

You sleep alone by the sea. All night, the sound of the waves breaking. In the morning, you'll walk on the beach.

All locked up in our little houses, scattered around the world. And I used to think I knew what to do about it.

You laughed when I said Shelley was a Puritan, but that's exactly what he was. One of those people who says, no. It's not all right. It's not all right that there's sin and suffering in the world, and I'm going to stop it.

But that was at the beginning of the ocean, not at the end.

I sleep on the floor beside your bed, so I can hear you breathing. Don't worry: I'm an early riser. I'll be gone before you wake. You'll never know I was there.

And in the old, old country with its worn-down hills, there's snow falling. It will kiss your face. If I could kiss your face, I'd melt too, vanish in a trace of delight. Worth the long drifting fall through the dark air. A moment of warmth.

I think you still don't understand that it's precisely the clumsiness, the awkwardness, the hesitations, that love is made of. I would never love someone who was graceful all the time.

I'm empty, a carapace, the cast skin of a human being. I wander from place to place, looking for someone to make me real. But like the old man said, you can't burn snow. You must have something to work with.

This is as real as I get.

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