Goat Poet

December 8, 2009 § 1 Comment

My sister and my friend Sanna threw a couple of parties this weekend for me to sell my jewelry. It worked out well, if not as well as I’d hoped. There was snow one day, miscommunication the next. What kind of freaked me out, though, was that at both parties people were talking about books—writing them, reading them—and it took me ages to remember that, yes, I’m a writer too.

I’ve been forgetting a lot in my middle age, but this is a little much. It’s like forgetting I’m female. I’ve been lucky enough not to have to work hard at other jobs for most of my life, and now that I do have to, I can’t see how people manage to keep their literary imp alive. Mine’s at the back of the closet, under the laundry that gets left out of the sorting every month, behind the high-heeled mud-purple boots I’ve never worn, the box of old tax records and the rickety pile of unidentified devices.

At least I think it’s there. The cat might have eaten it.

Lately I’ve received two serious compliments on my poems (by professionals, I mean, not just my dear ones), and each time I’m thrilled but confused; I have wax in my ears; I’m in a dream from which I should wake up decades younger. I won’t even get into my fantasies about what my agent is doing with my two novel manuscripts.

Let’s stick to the good news. Money was made and compliments received, on both poems and jewelry. The inches of hair Delilah cut off in Davis’s kitchen is still brown. I got to see new-fallen snow in the country, ate well, was mooned by an 18 year old boy, and treated to rapturous love by the cats on my return. And if you read Chinese astrology sites at 2 a.m. (I can’t speak for other times of day), you’ll find that my animal, the Wood Goat, is supposed to have a stellar 2010. So there.

THE JEWELS

The beloved was naked, and knowing my heart,
had retained only her vibrant jewels,
whose pageantry gave to her a rich and conquering air
such as belonged, on langorous days, to Moorish concubines.

This world radiant of metal and rock
ravishes me, and when its bright
and mocking noise leaps in dance, I madly love
those things in which sound is mixed with light.

She lay thus, abandoned to love,
and from the height of the couch, smiled
carelessly at my ardor that rose, deep and fragrant as the sea,
mounting toward her as toward a pale cliff.

Eyeing me like a tamed tiger,
she posed with a vague and dreamy air,
and candor, being joined to shamelessness,
gave fresh charm to all her metamorphoses.

Polished with oil, undulant like a swan,
arm and leg, thigh and loins
passed before my serene and clairvoyant eyes;
while her belly and breasts, fruits of my vine,

Hovered, more seductive than Fallen Angels,
to trouble the repose in which my soul lay,
and to lure it from the crystal rock where,
calm and solitary, it had been enthroned.

I thought I saw the hips of Antiope
joined by a new design to a boyish torso,
so that her figure thrust forth its pelvis–
how superb the rouge on this brown and tawny complexion!

–The lamp had resigned itself to dying.
The hearth alone illuminated the room,
and each time it heaved forth a flaming sigh,
flooded her amber skin with blood.

–Charles Baudelaire,
translated by Robert Anbian

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