The keris of lion love (edit 1)

The lions of my heart, including me,
have a core of honest creativity
around which spiral all the moments
of their being.
Between the core and outward-moving
is a luminescent space called love.
If you find yourself in that place,
thank your stars.
It may be scary, full of strong energy,
but you’ll never find anything else like it.

What if I met another lion,
and the spirals of our moments
intertwined like DNA?
What kind of love would we make?
My love has always fared best in outer space,
which cools the nuclear heat of love in me.
What if I met another spiral galaxy,
and gravitation pulled us into one?
All I can think is holy fuck.

The purpose of that lion space of love
is to mediate the moments of our lives,
to help the ones we’re drawn to
find the core of us.
What if I met another lion, and
the space of love in each of us,
in equal brilliance canceling the other,
let us see each other’s cores
with no intervening light,
and the space and light of love became a passage,
love became a cushion, a poem,
love became a feather in the wind?

Oh, to dance around the center
of another honest lion,
and watch him dance around the core of me.
Holy fuck,
what an amazing thing that would be.

Blue eyes (edit 1)

Rain-streaked bricks,
pepper-green trees,
and the sky —
thick as oatmeal, and gray as a city cat —
welcome a procession of
Nanas, walking slow,
humming descants,
dressed in wraps of blue —
turquoise, aquamarine, and harbor —
stirring up the storm.

Their hands set bells
and nazar boncuğu to work, spinning,
facing down anyone who dares
to try poisoning my well.

They take rest, and sip
at sweetened tea. The morning grows old.
As the Nanas leave,
they lift the end of my shawl
into the wind.
Its gauze is cool, fragrant with indigo
from shadows
of past summer suns,
and scattered over with soft diamonds
smiling at blue eyes
winking in the rain
under an ash-wood bough.

Blue eyes

Copper-hued bricks, pepper-green trees,
a sky as thick as boiled oatmeal
and gray as a city cat, and rain, these
are this season’s prelude to the coming
of three grandmothers, each wrapped in a blue:
turquoise, aquamarine and harbor.

Waving their hands to stir up the breeze
that sets bells and nazar boncuğu spinning,
they give these instructions: stare down
anyone who hungers to poison a well.

Retreating, my ladies bless a shawl,
a dupatta sharply redolent of the indigo
shadows it cast under past summers’ suns,
one that’s soft, cool and sprinkled with stars
that smile at the sight of blue eyes
hanging from an ash-wood bough.

Prescriptive (edit 2)

If happiness is honey, tickly-thick
enough to make you choke,
if happiness is wine, a smooth swallow
and a short-lived high,
if you’re defended against joy,
and now you’re breathing faint for want of it,
the remedy is to take happiness anyway.
You already know life will trip you up
and slap your smile away — don’t
give it an assist.
If your secret is that joy’s a fleeting presence,
if you don’t like loss, and you know
joy’s as insubstantial as leaves in the wind,
the remedy is to catch it, even so.
Open your arms,
stretch out your fingers,
and catch good times as
they whistle past your ears.
Flying leaves land and crumble.
But they’re tender, too, and
when held up to the sun
offer shade in red,
green and gold.

The value of dissolution, part 2 (edit 1)

Chhoti Bahu, she of the biggest eyes and motion
most honey-like, begs you to stay.
Here is she:
bound by your space, still at your whimsy,
her desire ‘broidered and enfolded in silk,
now softened to the lateral by draughts
of sharaab, throwing petals.
How could the asking be more gentle?
You stiffen and flinch as if roses are made of flint,
as if to your ears her song
is a loud and acid vibration.
You wince under the petal-storm, duck,
lay the blame on her, and reach down to stay her.
She catches your hand. She wants a touch
of attention and respect, nothing more, just
a little two-way conversation.
You let yourself be held, then tear yourself away.
Note, you let yourself be held.
Meena Begum is never more beautiful than when she’s
at your feet in this role, her hair a river
of dark silk, made by God to cool your irritated skin.
Her love’s stronger than the laziness and self-contempt
I see in you,
and when you’re ill and honest thus, you remember her
and let yourself be gathered to her breast.
She can’t save you –
not one of us can save another, forever.
Her sacrifice is a gift you say you don’t want.
But you take it anyway.
In time, far away in some
limitless place,
her dissolution is going to soften
the harshness you learned to breath.

(part 1 isn’t written, and maybe never will be.)

Note: This is an ekphrasis on the picturization of the song Na Jao Saiyan Chhudaake Baiyan from Guru Dutt‘s 1962 Hindi film Shahib Bibi aur Ghulam. The actress is Meena Kumari, the actor is Rehman. Chhoti Bahu means little or younger sister-in-law, in an extended family setting; sharaab means wine; Begum is a term of respect, similar to the old formality Mistress.

Three years three months and counting

“There’s no one like you,”
she whispered, turning away.

The leaves are flying,
rattling soft like small bones,
raining through the sun-out, sun-in light.
Their mother-trees kept them
tied to their twigs
in cold weeks,
to mend a summer-drought.

“Where are you? How is it you’re here,
and not? Why do I love you?”
she dreamed.

Somewhere, near you,
flowers are sharing themselves
with reflected light, odorous,
bright, and sleepy-sweet.
A Spanish word is softer: olor.
There’s a type of sherry with a dark taste,
long-aged, called oloroso.
Las plantas de tu (ya su, mera love) país
son muy olorosas.
Your winters are promises
of sweating and brown skin.

“Late November’s cold is greyish-clear,
like glass.
Do you still dance? Or swim?
Just now a dog is moaning
about missing owners, praying
for their safe return, crying
that she was left behind.
The Mumbai dogs, whom I love
because they sing near you,
tell me about what touches you,”
she said.

I’m healing.
Sickness made a distance between me and life.
In the void were possibilities.
My eyes are closing.
If I don’t allow them to,
I’ll cry, my retinas will detach, my lungs will drown,
my heart will stop.

You’ve given me all I needed
to make sense out of experience.
I can watch Emma Thompson act,
know what she’s doing wrong
and the probable why,
and enjoy the experience, as I used to.
Watching films now, I look at cloth a lot, and at light.
My hands know how things would feel,
how a needle would work the material, going in,
my fingers feel each weave.
I remember how we used to be
all sharply-pressed,
and now we’re not.
I don’t mourn a thing that’s changed,
except for missing loves.
Everything else cycles in and out
and in again,
the same and new.

You are my love forever.
I lose all grace when I face you with this,
I become a stumbling girl.

All art is about love;
and love is an art.
I’m still trying to learn how to do it.

© Nov ’10 Heather Quinn, all rights reserved

Norway morning

On an April morning
chill as a fjord,
a Norway maple’s whippy branches
are riding winds
in a New York courtyard
of half-lit bricks
and a third-story window
mirroring clouds dimensional as night
and an almost-imaginary
purple-blue sky.
If a family of butterflies
were tied to branches,
their wings would shimmer in various greens,
hinting of fall,
like these maple leaves
shaking with cold
in a Norway morning,
as the earth moves in its blankets of clouds,
spinning out winds,
singing of you, singing to you.

© Apr ’10 Heather Quinn, all rights reserved