Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday Poem


ASCHENBACH IN TORONTO

Every Wednesday she came by and
apologized like a schoolgirl
although she was not really late,
smiling and pushing back her long hair—
she had been reading Musil, or
Lessing, or, it could be, Mann, and
there might be some query about
the lecture of the day before, or
she would mention to him that moment
by the sea, on the beach at the Lido,
where the celebrated author is
hallucinating in his deck-chair, 
and by now they would be
undoing each other and
as their bodies came open
there would be only 
a minute or so left
for this, their mouths
pre-empted except for
slight and perfunctory 
syllables—
but still that image beckoned,
and still the little subdued slap
of the Adriatic mingled 
with the air-conditioning
so that even on the office couch, or
held up against some noticed space
when love was 
prompting her, she would see
what he had seen,
a kind of god, a stunning boy
on whom the sun paused 
turning to look back
from the curling shore, but
it meant nothing,
it was youth 
and she was impatient
with anyone who knew
so little. If she
could intercept 
that glance from the deck-chair,
oh, not to be seen by it but
to become it—
and at the thought of this, 
of pouring forth out of
that cache of mind, collecting
beach and sun and
stunning boy 
and returning inside to test these
against the thronged images
(think of it! always there, always
ardent for the light!) 
and teeming, stacked-up rhythms
of that severe, unswerving life,
why, she can hardly wait,
this is why she’s here, 
this is not Venice and
not exactly an aloof genius
either, but it’s the closest
she can get to 
things so boundless
she could spend her whole life
investigating them. As for him,
watching 
her dress and now the brief pause
and turn to look back towards him
from the door, he’s reminded of
something, a motion perhaps, 
some gesture, what is it, he wonders,
watching although she is gone,
he leans forward in his chair
by the sea.
From A Serious Call (Porcupine's Quill, 2015) by Don Coles

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