He feels himself buried in those two infinities, the ocean and the sky, at one and the same time: the one is a tomb; the other is a shroud.
Unlike Percy Bysshe it won’t be my heart
that gets washed ashore when the Niger claims
me as her bride. Flesh is complex, flowchart
of routes, tasty tasty mouthfuls. What shames
me is not how undignified drowning
leaves one, Hart Crane playing dice with Melville’s
bones, will Oya see to that, what’s shaming
is how little the soul cares of what spills
between my lips; girl-blood, essence, wave’s curl.
Spills in my lungs; panic, bone-dust, water.
What shames me is that I can’t save the last
gasp of a girly-boy, a boyish-girl.
Yet I walk on. The seas claimed you, lover,
to their depths where all souls lie, still and vast.
Porque eu estou morto. Porque
eu afogou e eu morri de dor. Porque
minha língua é tocando no céu da tua boca.
Porque minha dor é o lua lindo. Porque
minha sepultura a é piscina das oceanos longínquas.
Porque ama seu professor por você ensinar
as coisas mais belas das quais não é ensinado na sala de aula.
Digo-lhe isto. Na fragilidade do amor é isto.
Dor. Pequenas mortes. Afogamento.
Venha aqui. Você está curioso,
e eu estou nua e sempre molhado.
Because I’m dead. Because
I drowned and died in pain. Because
my tongue is touching the roof of your mouth.
Because my pain is the gorgeous moon. Because
my grave is a pool of distant oceans.
Because you love your teacher for teaching
the most beautiful things that never get taught in the classroom.
I tell you this. The fragility of love is this.
Pain. Little deaths. Drowning.
Come here. You are curious,
and I’m naked and always wet.
* * *
“i too am a rare
pattern. as i wander down
the garden paths …”
— Amy Loewell, Patterns
And you answered, “it shall be as you said.”
And I’m dead and you think of my deathblow
as you walk up and down with brushed forehead
on our garden path, giving way to snow,
in your stiff gown, gorgeously arrayed, boned
and stayed. But not as Amy Lowell wrote down.
You’re no lady and I no colonel, stoned
on cheap morphine, in a French trench. I drowned,
not in Flanders, but at sea. You’ll grow old
walking our path; but I will be nineteen
evermore. If it had been death at war
and not a mistake, would that have consoled
you? As if a bullet wound and gangrene
would make such a difference for evermore.
Balumba stole my lover’s breath. She died
and all of Mayumba suffered with me.
The next day, down by the ocean, I spied
the ghost of my love as she passed. Fairy
lights were in her hair, her left breast had grown
back and her splendid ass shook as she walked.
Balumba had painted an ash skull-bone
on my lover’s face and prated and squawked
in the mist of my dead Osa’s unbound
hair. I do not like blue-faced Balumba,
even if she is a woman who drowned
under the long shadows of the casbah.
Osa just smiles. Death was not the nightmare
she thought. Neither was our secret affair.
Bongolo Hospital of Libreville is the only cancer treatment center in all of Gabon, Africa. The distance from Libreville to my coastal village of Mayumba is 276 miles. Mayumba is known for its long sandy beach where leatherback turtles nest.
Balumba (whose name means Ghost Face) is a Gabonese haunt from the same region.
Mountains do not amaze the way the gaps
in the earth do. The Marianas calls
for me, those dark bottomless shapes on maps
where our feeble sunlight dies and nightfalls
over and over into the abyss.
To sink, to drift, to dream, a soul crying
in the darkness. I do not know if “bliss”
is the right word, perhaps it’s “fear”? Drowning
is a thing larger than our souls. Union
with these eldritch horrors. Souls can never
find their way home once lost in the ocean.
Pray for this diving bell and its diver.
Pray that pressure does not crush, oxygen
holds out, that all we love comes back again.
para Virginia Woolf, 1882 – 1941
Virginia, estás ahí,
en algún lugar.
Un barco en la noche.
Usted se ahogó.
El suspiro de una fantasma.
Perdido en las dunas.
Usted pone piedras
en tu bolsillo.
Una sombra se hundió
en la noche
gris; a continuación,
La tierra baldía de aguas.
El besos suave de las olas contra
un cuerpo gris; una criatura
de kelp y soledad.
(Virginia, you’re there, somewhere. A ship in the night. You drowned. The breath of a ghost. Lost in the dunes. You put stones in your pocket. A shadow sank in the gray night, then waste. The water wasteland. The soft kisses of the waves against a gray body, a creature of kelp and loneliness.)
Una vez al mes,
mi mar está furioso.
Un dios de mareas
Esta noche, mi salado
miel es comido por mí mismo.
Vete. El las algas rojas
es para usted.
No despierte el mar.
Cada beso un tifón
de relámpagos y truenos.
Vete. Todos mis amantes
(Once a month, my sea is furious. A god of tides and bedrooms. Tonight, my salty honey is eaten all by myself. Go. The red algae is for you. Father Poseidon is sleeping. Don’t wake the sea. Each kiss a typhoon of lightning and thunder. Go. All my lovers have drowned)