Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Favourite Poem of Mine

Blue Vigour

I think, if you have lived through a war
or have made your home in a country
not your own, or if you've learned
to love one man,
then your life is a story.

Eight thousand feet about the sea's devotions
sail the four Ngong hills.
The East Wind - "King Solomon's favourite horse" -
rides over the plain to the foothills;
you follow the monsoon's path to my farm,
desert in your clothes and hair.

If you love a man who's not your husband,
your life becomes the story everyone tells.

For months we were still as animals
alert to an enemy. We stalked each other with the charged
passivity of the inevitable.
With the patience and impatience of obsession.

I learned about you
the way I learned about the river
at the edge of my farm -
I can't see it from the house
but know its path by the acacias
that grow along it.

What I couldn't foresee
led me to you.

During the act of greatest trust
my husband gave me a lasting gift.
I was rotten with his mal d'amour;
they had to send me home.
Almost thirty, back in my mother's house.
When I could walk again, her narrow arm
steered me through the garden,
green peony hands glistening
like the acres of coffee I'd left behind.
I leaned against her,
missing her youth as well as my own.
Home, yet not home.
Although the marriage was over,
I had the farm.
Although we hadn't touched yet,
I longed for Ngong and your body.

Sleepless on the boat
I pressed against the railing,
leaned into my future.
To deny another's happiness
by denying your own -
that could only be an adult misery.

I know your value
because you give yourself
just as you're leaving.
Each sojourn refines our feeling -
together we are stones tumbling to jewels,
beans polishing in the coffee-dryer,
gleaming under the lanterns.

When we stayed at your house
on the Takaunga, the moon was firm
in the shaking sky.
We were alive as coral pools,
where water shapes the rock
and rock shapes the water.

Each time you return
you ask for another story.
Your expectation lets me love you
when you're gone.
My wanting would have both encased me
and driven me out of my skin
like an insect under the canopy at night -
were it not for words.
Each day I write to greet you.

Those mornings when one side of my bed
is cool with your absence,
I rise to the window and loving you,
the Ngong hills gather me in.

With each parting
my heart is forced to grown,
because the only way to love you
is to love each particle of green and
each animal part of life -
muscle, skin and bone -
that dots and darts and hides
in the view from my room.

And now that you've learned to fly,
and really ride King Solomon's East Wind,
I have to love the air.

Anne Michaels
The Weight of Oranges Collection

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