Wednesday, April 25, 2012

a poem by timothy liu

The Lovers 

You are the angry valentine
And the envelope I cut
My tongue across while sealing
Its flap shut. You are
The bumpy rash spreading
Across my shoulder at four a.m.
And the tab of Claritin
Dissolving in my blood—
A forgotten dream
That nags at me off and on
Throughout the day,
A pyramid of crystal
Goblets stacked on top
Of one another downstairs
At the Crate and Barrel
A stone's throw from where
You work because you
Needed to get away.
If only I had a magnum
Of Dom Perignon, I'd
Pour ebullient waterfalls
To rival the fountains
At Versailles. You won't
Be going home to your wife
Tonight, not while an elephant
Charges across the floor
With gleaming tusks
Where herds of panicked
Post-holiday shoppers duck
Behind those see-through
Plastic curtains with mermaids
Undulating through them
While you crouch low in some
Out-of-the-way corner with
A Blackberry at your ear
Listening to my voice—you
Who never much liked talking
Without being able to see
My face, o my Chevalier,
My hillside of flat stones
Piled high on the outskirts
Of Châteauneuf-du-Pape,
My hot plate of used corks
Glued together from all the meals
We've shared, the teapot
Whistling whenever you found
Your way to my table,
I of such little faith
In your love for me, in love
With me while spinsters
Plump the nuptial bed
With the plucked feathers
Of outsized swans—pillows
I'll never get the chance
To lay my head upon
Or dream upon, won't you
Forgive me of my greed,
My wayward imaginings
Of a life other than the one
We are given only once,
Your voice pounding
In my ear, in consort
With my heart as if we
Were post-coital lovers
Conversing in the dark
While shadows flit about
The honeymoon suite,
Its air perfumed with roses
In a cut-glass vase identical
To the one my mother
Kept in her childhood home—
Dragons swirling on a silk
Drawstring bag drawn shut
With tassels made of gold—
Fifteen beads of lapis lazuli
Dangling on her wrist her man
Never asked about, not once,
In all their years of marriage—
Such passions fully spent.

Timothy Liu is the author of eight books of poems, most recently Bending the Mind Around the Dream's Blown Fuse. He lives with his husband in Manhattan.

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