the scent of the real

(For Cyril, who said "real life, if there is a real life, is boring, and therefore, not art.")

Of course it isn't.
But there's that
one second between
dreaming and waking
when we can never be
too sure where
and which we are.

Now and then it follows us
into the bare room
of consciousness;
blanket sagged to floor
again, the bed wincing
in its regular creak.

With luck, there's someone
beside you, who doesn't notice
the slight glaze in your eye,
a fracture of the light
not attributed to lust, for once.

Go back to sleep,
you could say, stroking
the oiled finery of his hair.
Or you might locate
the fulcrum of his breathing,
unbalance him with the point
of a kiss, so you both fall
into a sea of your own making,
riding its extraordinary tide.

Even in the throes
of receiving
and expelling air
in quickening lapses
you succumb
to an unerotic prescience.

Already you envision
the harried buttoning,
frantic rush to road,
a claustrophobia of routine.
Lifted from one sweet immersion
to drown in another.

By now so far gone
into the commonplace
you've forgotten the shore
and shape of love,

the body's familiar narratives
retold in every touch, aching
for touch, two dying
creatures seeking equal ballast
in desire's mirror.

How many times
will you hear this story
in the quiet keeping of strangers
whose hearts you cannot know
but through the glass
of your own hunger?

As if the scent of the real
is simply found, and not
with each hour's singular musk
diffused, unmarked, into sunlight.

As if to bear clear witness
to your longing
in this life alone
isn't the only art
there is.

Alvin Pang

© 15 November 2001   00:12 hours