Friday, November 03, 2006

Because I don't know you

Who would think that Molly would have anything left to say by Friday- especially a Friday so covered in deadlines and boredom? All week was small scraps of desire - time, information, new car/shoes/eyes, inspiration, and tiny bits of fulfillment. But here it is, late Friday and there are still things left to say.

Since forever Molly is the sort of woman who has always gotten what she wants. And I don't mean just material things. When I was a gangly-kneed 9 year old, I'd write the score I wanted to get on the back of a spelling test before even looking at it. Invariably, I'd meet or beat that score. I knew the first time I heard Mr. Hall read at a small church in Wilmont, NH that I could get him to invite me back to his house, let me cook him dinner and within a few months time, move into his house and lounge on the sofa each morning over coffee and baseball scores read aloud out of the local paper. It turns out I didn't end up needing to -- the Tufts summer program offered housing -- but it was the offer that counted.

The process of procurement is as complex as the process for writing a poem. It's a sidelong glance at what I want - never an overt grab for the ball. A true indication of craving risks exposure (at best) or denial (I'd have to guess it would be horrible). Even the glance can transform what is coveted. It's like catching a woman looking at herself in a rear view mirror at a stop sign, applying lip gloss and appreciating herself as if she's the only being alive. If she sees you watching, the purse gets snapped shut, the mirror flicked closed and she's back to humming Lionel Ritchie tunes and mental-listing her day. But if you're careful about how you watch, you can steal a whole show from those few minutes she spends with the mirror.

To what end all this? A box of trinkets? A book? An old desk filled with foreign words whose every meaning I know? Maybe it's the poetry. Maybe it's about seeing. Maybe because it feels good and alive.

May Swenson's poem gets at it a little better than I am right now. Here's the last part that I'm thinking of especially:

"Because I Don't Know You"

...Did it pierce you
there, my look of hunger, like a hook?
I wanted only a sniff, a tongue-tip's
taste, a moment's bath in your rare
warmth. That last night, trading
goodbyes, when we kissed-or you did, me-
my hand took your nape, plunged under
the thick spill of your hair. Then
I stepped into the dark, out of the light
of the party, the screen door's yellow
square sliding smaller and smaller behind
me. You've become a dream of ripe
raspberries, in summer country: deep, dark
red lips, clean, gleaming generous smile.
Who owns you? I don't know. I'll hide you
away in my dream file. Stay there. Don't
change. I don't know you-and had better
not. Because I don't know you, I love you.
-May Swenson

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the ways to say it, this is the one I never would have thought of, but Christ does it hit. I know those moments before the mirror. Perfect abandon.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the ways to say it, this is the one I never would have thought of, but Christ does it hit. I know those moments before the mirror. Perfect abandon.

3:52 PM  

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