Exercises in Containment
I think we drank too much red wine
because we are not having sex.
And sometimes we smoked cigarettes
so our lips have something
to do besides speak.
Last summer when you read Wittgenstein
I was miles away
thinking about you reading Wittgenstein.
One night on your porch we drank a $300 bottle of wine
you pulled by mistake
when the bulb in your cellar went out.
If we’d had sex that night it would have been thirty times
better than the very drinkable sex we’d been having before.
Not having sex doesn’t raise our moral standing as much as we think.
I can still rearrange the molecules in your space without trying.
I’ve thought of buying you a Cartier lighter.
You’ve tried to buy me two paintings.
I know the cracked leather chair in which you sit
when you read. When you read Heidegger this winter
I could hear you turning pages.
If we were together, I might say, “Stop reading Heidegger.”
If we were together, you might say, “Leave me alone. I’m reading Heidegger.”
We like talking about the life together we do not have:
its rich nature, the small but lovely container for all that it must hold.
To Write About You Without Doing So
Requires a Dutch still life, replete
with the arrangement of abundance.
Abraham Mignon’s fishing rod,
bait box, nest of bird’s eggs & ripe fruit.
The curled, puckered skin
of the half-peeled lemon.
Or a treatise on the promiscuity
of the Aquatic Warbler, whose protracted
sexual embrace is thirty minutes
instead of the standard three-second avian fuck.
To write about you without directly doing so
requires that I place you within the pages
of the Aberdeen Bestiary, where you might be
a bee, the smallest of birds born
from the bodies of oxen, or a stag
who provides its tears and rib bones
as a cure for troubles of the heart.
To write about without doing
so requires a bullfinch who has no song
of its own, requires advancing gingerly
on the nest of a swallow, requires
a synoptic-scale disturbance, a low
pressure area in which cloud masses
do not appear to be organized.
Requires Wittgenstein’s ladder
over which you escape.
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