Poetry of Desire

Since last week I have been thinking about the nature of desire, the erotic, about sensuality, about longing and love. These ideas have been in the words I say to myself.

From last Monday:

Friends, I came this close today to writing a post about the erotic and desire. I spent the evening reading many of the poems I had written between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-six, and I was actually about to post excerpts here. And why? Did I need to be known that much tonight? This afternoon I read Audre Lorde’s essay on the erotic, and it reminded me of my thirst for joy. I was reminded of how, on 11/25 of 2012, it appears, I felt that the desires behind my “eye-sockets”  had been “short-circuited somewhere deep inside,” and that if I was younger and stronger, I had said, I wouldn’t keep staring at “the fixedness of the white plaster in front of me.” I thought today that maybe something in Lorde’s essay could have opened up a window for the things I was thinking and saying back then at a time when–and I can only say this because I spent the evening cringe-reading my poems–I was apparently living in a very tumultuous mode. When reading Mauriac’s “The Desert of Love” recently–with a title like that I should have known–reading phrases like “the heated contemplation,” like “at the point where passion becomes a presence…she coaxed her fire…her love became suffocating,” like “for the rest of his life he would cry her tears on the figures of other women”–I had to put the book down. Just to catch my breath. “I don’t think people are supposed to feel this intensely,” I thought. Nevertheless we do. I did on 11/25/2012. And I will not be sharing any more of that poem.

Then Thursday evening I saw “In/Side” the Alvin Ailey piece. There was purple light on the stage. Nina Simone’s “Wild is the Wind” sang. One man, alone, was flying and writhing. As my professor asked, could we have handled this dance–how loud it was, somehow for only one dancer–if we weren’t twenty-five rows back? I was shedding tears from the second phrase of the song. I just kept crying, and the second it was over, every one, in one instant, had risen to our feet clapping, aching, roaring applause. Listening to the song again, I’m back in that space.

And then tonight, my sister and I have been listening to the Brazilian bossa nova standard “Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar” And here too is Tom Jobim singing it. Something about hearing a man singing it, for me, just brings it all home, how we can bring ourselves to this moment where “I know that I’m going to love you” becomes “I know that I’m going to cry.” It’s like that Linda Ronstadt where she sings, “I think I’m gonna love you” and then “I think it’s gonna hurt me,” and still again, “I think I’m gonna miss you for a long, long time.”

And, finally, a Psalm which also came across my path last week. “My soul thirsts for you,” it says, “My soul will be satisfied with fat and rich food / and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. / “I will remember you in my bed / and will meditate on you in the watches of the night.”

For you have been my help 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy
My soul clings to you
Your right hand upholds me

“My soul clings to you.” I think that this is what it’s like to be in love, what it’s like to thirst, what it’s like, finally, to lift our heads, our eyes, to open wide our hearts–the tears, the desire, and the rejoicing–to feel the vibration there in our chests, to let it ring across our bodies, what it’s like to open up our throats, and what it’s like, at last, to sing.

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