Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Triple Marriage (2003)

Love and its lust
have always rounded
me to You, whether
rising the glass staircase
of sweet devotion
or swirling down
the whirlpool of
the worst desires.
Both are Your tides,
like high and low Mass,
the one intoned
in the Latin of sweet
verse, the other
a vulgate hissed
through a bitch’s
teeth, mid-swoon,
full cursed. I have
lived and loved at
both ends, the
brown child of
high summer
and winter’s alley
cat. Today I believe
You wound me both
ways in your
perplex bed, like
alternating paps
of honey and gall
where the sweetness
always jissomed
bitter days, and the
dark could prove
infernal and so
endlessly wild. --
You hummed in
my heart three
melodies (or maladies):
With, without, and
some murky shore
between or beyond,
rife in the bittersweet
blues of lifelong
exile in the heart’s Paree,
always one surer step
shy of Your permanent
thighs. The worse time
was when I wanted
both high and low
real fruit at once,
and sought to limn
a life with two
real loves. I mean
that season when
I tried to maintain
a marriage gone chaste
and dry while
whetting my whistle
downtown with an
other woman who
hungered dark as I.
I wove those days
in a terrified funk,
incensed and guilty,
secretive, desperate
to keep the order
and sense of high
love’s happy home
while growing ever
more addicted to
a sugar malt that
was bubbling up
from a distaff well
I would not, then
could not close.
The awfulness of
infidelity full whored
me as I lathered
the air around my
wife with lies; when
I came home at
night she sometimes
sensed the rages
behind my husbandly
soft smile, and would
ask, Is everything OK?
And the words would
gush like violins--
-- fine my love,
this life with you
everything, all I
ever dreamed of one
day living in. The
words were true
in one half of
heart and thus
perilous, and the
bulk of what I did
not say right then
grew muskier
and more fatal
every day I zipped
my lips tight. O God
I’d pray in the darkness
of our bed those
nights, teach me
how to love right.
And then the next day,
back at work downtown,
I’d type cock amd
balls on the keyboard
and send them to
that other who
took every word
and swallowed them
with a dreamy smile.
More, she’d always
reply. All ways more.
How could I resist
such assy ear?
My wife could hardly
bear to read a
word I’d put to paper.
(So sad, she’d say.)
And so, after months
I could dam the sea
no more and let
the wave-shapes roar
across a foreign,
damned bed, and so
began the fall in which
I lost wife and home
and every shred of
sense -- nearly lost
it all. You received
me in that cold dark
season of reckless,
costly thrills, in
an even colder bed --
further down than my
mortal wrong headedness
could go. I recall a
January day awaking
in that wrong woman’s
bed after drinking
most of the night
and fucking for just
about the rest -- How
cold and gray and
windswept the day
as it blew clear through
my ravaged heart,
the life I had chosen
so destitute of
choice, so emptied
of every good emotion
as to drown me there --
Yet still the dark
in me cried More!,
some worser part of
my heart in
love with the awfulness
of it all, the booze
without all measure,
the hard menacity
of the sex (fanglike
in its plunge, all
greed, insatiate,
plundering the full
receipt of need).
I remember coming
to the rest of my
life in the paupery
of that day, thinking
of my ex-wife in our
ex-house with our
ex-cat staring out
the window toward
where I’d disappeared,
all of that so many
miles away on
some island I’d fully
lost, my every high
wish for love and
every hard labor
I’d engaged for it
lost in my leap
into this infernal
bed with the woman
you crowned there
just like any other,
only wounded
more in every sexual
way which gifted
ear and pen to
plead with otherness
the same way somehow
I yet bled. -- I was
her demon lover
and she mine, and every
day and night we
stole together was
some theft of every
good grace a soul
might one day work
under -- Well, that
affair lasted long
enough to help
me tasted enough the
booze that losing
always brews. It sank
of its own accord
and, some months
later, up at my old
house to help my wife
with chores while
we figured out how to
go about divorce, my
wife and I realized
that we didn’t want
to lose what we had
worked for, no matter
how much it was
that we had already
forever lost. And so
my travels back
to home began. Two
and a half years later,
we’ve come a long
ways. This morning
as cold winds blow
outside, the house
inside is warm in
so many anchoring
ways -- The Christmas
tree we slowly decorate
adding new ornaments
with the year: The cat
upstairs and the kits
in the guest room
and the mama cat
outside all circling
round our feeding
loving hands: The
bed upstairs where
my wife sleeps
and soon where
I will go, to stroke
her feet slowly
as she wakes for
the next work day.
We’re not yet
fully home; sometimes
I wonder if we can
ever get there. Last
night again my wife
asked me what
was wrong; and though
I knew with all
my heart that nothing
was, not now, I also
knew her worry
came from older
wrongs from nights
when was supposed
to be fine but surely
most awfully was not.
The shadows cast
from then to here
are mine, but You
are surely the bright
source, a lucid depth
which burns no
matter how I live.
My mortal loves have
all contended that
strange disorienting
voice inside my own
which surely is Yours;
it makes me sound
half-hearted, out of
sync with the day,
my loyalty a leaky,
riven thing where
wilder music on
some other shore
will always sing.
Well, this home is
one I pray to grow
oldest in, and so
these highs and lows
must live further
inside than the
mere and rawer angels
of embodied lust --
Your loins are a
beach where windswept
waves contend but
have no teeth, no
real woman to rend.
Perhaps that’s the
triune marriage you
have always been
sighing and singing
and signing for --
My one hand stroking
my wife’s real feet,
the other with
this pen stroking
up the choir
line after line
til you are also fine,
the shore between
high and low loves
like a ring I wear
around this heart.


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