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.

15 November 2001   00:12 hours
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