‘I love you’
You dislike the tourism in the words but you let them remain,
like a nose that one needs for breathing, whatever its shape.
Do you change the font when I say them to you?
Is it its speed you dislike, its lack of revelation, its costumeness?
I imagine you tell me that these words are all mouth,
too open, like a martyr’s body, that you prefer love with eyelids,
that let light in and disappear. But you say nothing,
not these words which I wait for, as if saying them
would make a doll lose its heritage. You give these words
humour, their rust and grease. ‘I love you,’ I say, like one in exile.
The words are in disrepair. ‘I know,’ you say in response.
I feel like a thief who doesn’t know the worth of his loot.
‘I love you,’ I say again, as if I was learning a new language.
I hear your tendrilled smile: ‘Are you sure?’ you say, teasing.
And the three words turn into news – a weather report.
‘Idiot.’ We do not call each other by name,
as if the world was a wind that’d break the bones in our names.
‘Idiot.’ That’s like our connubial word, a glue, a game.
Passing the parcel. ‘Idiot.’
More joyous, more full of playful conviction than ‘I will’.
‘Idiot.’ Its sound as dense as ritual, naked as laughter.
It’s the word’s stockiness we love – how it gives our love its vowels.
‘Idiot.’ This is our sacred secret, our soft slap,
how it turns us metal, makes us buckle as if it were heat.
The word changes alkalinity as it travels between us –
we ferry the word’s instinct, we allow it drama.
‘Idiot.’ This grace note, as pure as a gambler’s wish.
It returns – ‘Idiot’; ‘Idiot’ – like satellites.
And we come together,
like numbers – ‘like youth, idiot’ – meld into one another,
like people – ‘like light, idiot’ – in a photograph.
This is how you perform synaesthesia – turning touch to sound.
This new genre – the kiss on the phone
Mmm-mah. Mmm-mah. Mmm-mah.
The line amplifies their sound; or it’s my heart.
Mmm-mah. Emphatic, like a rubber stamp.
And yet not one is a replica of the other,
each as different as the waves in a sea.
And each like the wave that I know will return to me.
Like sleep does every night, new and old, like fresh clothes.
At night, when all thoughts gather as if darkness were a station,
I am suddenly jealous of the phone, and soon of the air,
where the wireless is, where all your kisses are.
I’m nervous, I’m possessive.
What if they drop from the sky on someone else?
Later, in the stickiness of my dreams, I’m a trapeze artist,
my trail a crowd of your kisses in the air.
‘Mmm-mah,’ you say again, that sound purer than ‘kiss’.
The eloquence of those who give is full of moist stains.
‘Dhyateriki.’ That sound even before my admiration has uncurled.
I’m talking, my words like cutlery, making sounds as they hit you.
The sound of your happy shyness – ‘Dhyateriki’ –
its syllables like an East European surname.
Its provincial lilt, and its comedy, condensed into its diminutive,
like an annotation – your ‘Dhyat’ – in this thing so rare:
a woman describing her man’s body.
There is no grammar here, no readymade metaphor.
The perfection of your form, the disorder in my glands,
skin the colour of late dawn, shoulder blades as robust as eagerness.
This encounter with beauty at eye level, this intimacy with form.
Form? My words don’t form – they forget to grow up, they honk.
‘Looking at your beauty one becomes aware of its inequality.’
I want to say something more, but you stop me. ‘Dhyateriki.’
Every relationship must have its neologism.
This is ours – silence on the phone,
which we strain to hear more attentively than words.
It is not the glamour of silence we seek but its foreplay,
a ventilator that keeps everything in suspense,
as if love were a risk, only an excitement.
We are arguing without words, we who love their theatre.
We are children, waiting for the other to speak first –
say anything; like breaking the folds of ironed clothes.
We are restless – the horizon of this silence seems too far away.
Only the surface catches light. And so with silence.
We know it’s inside us – a word, and the silence will be cured.
‘Hello,’ we say together, suddenly, as if it were an antibiotic.
And then the love begins, again, our love, as endless as silence.