Saturn Rings
About the

When you passed out on my bed
Becoming part of my vegetable dreams
In the gardens of Spain, your skin like
Black coffee, coņac and the oranges of
Valencia a heady aroma about you ---
I pretended not to be in love with every
Turn of your body. It would not do,
Not do for you to feel the rheum and
Snake-veins curled up next to you.

You later claimed that you had waked
Beside yourself to find yourself
Drunk in my bed; you said it was
Through no fault of your own.
I asked politely if you had visited
The Escorial just down the way,
To view the sunsets. Violent, they were.

You gave me three days and two nights.
I slept next to you athwart a thousand
Thousand lilies-of-the-valley blowing;
There was a festive explosion of monsoons
And volcanoes along my various fault-lines.
Did I mention it was gracious of you to say
Nothing about my sciatical groans, and
My many (repeated) regrets? And at times
During my slow diurnals, you would
Kindly pretend to be dead-to-the-world.

"That's not it at all, at all," you said as you
Pulled on pants and a wrinkled shirt
(Turquoise, with a circle of twisting vines).
I had been wetting my old yellow pillow with tears,
Trying to hide both my palsy and my grief.
"You know I'll be back in no time. Besides,
In love we take no hostages, right, Yank?"
You always called me "Yank." As in chains.

I think you were beginning to smell the ashes,
Feel the frail mandrake roots creeping up your
Tanned and seamless thighs. All the while
I think you were trying to remember my name.
"Swann," I said, five or ten times. "The bird.
The one that stays faithful to its mate. Forever."

"Love," you said, zipping up your denims,
Stamping out a Faro with your bare toes.
"Taking hostages," you said. "That's rich.
Did you write that, Yank? In a poem, Yank?"

I set my hand (fingers bent this way and that)
On your shoulder. You leaned towards me,
I thought there would be ... a what? A coup
De theatre.
But then you heard my catarrh,
And suddenly you were clattering down
The spiral staircase.

                              I thought on the rings
The thin and bitter rings of Saturn. Such beauty.
Captured by a cold round in space. Someplace
Out there where they would never let us reach.

--- C. K. Swann


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