For N.P.

After thirty,
no one takes love seriously
If you speak of surrender
your friends will only warn you
to hold on to your scorecard,
to calculate giving
and ration it out
into prudent parcels
like the mutual funds
on your bank statement—
to always think
about what makes sense,
to never pick up the ball
unless it falls in your court;
to keep your words
short and sweet,
sharing only the skin
on the milk of your heart.

But you understood
that this is not love at all,
after thirty or any time:
dreamer, friend,
partner in crimes of passion.

In a mirrored apartment
that your father bequeathed
to you after his murder
I escaped the world,
above the East River
and the bleached ribs
of the Whitestone bridge
where seagulls lazily played
in the panoramic blue
outside your picture window.

We savored meals
of dreams and secrets:
hiding in bookstores,
swimming in crystal blue
of chlorinated pools,
wandering Manhattan streets,
returning to commune
at a glass table
that captured the glow
of sun and streetlights
from brunch to midnight
when the moon would rise
like a brooch
above a city, sparkling
like a sequined evening gown—
and we’d watch the sky:
silent snow, pane-shuddering rain,
airplanes passing like thoughts
as we spoke of love
and love’s absence—
savoring both equally
as you stroked your black cat.

It was always just us,
alone in our secrets
and fragrant fantasies
that sustained us endlessly
as we chose our next adventure:
the monk I loved silently
who’d sent us gifts of rambutans
he’d climbed a wall to steal,
sleeping peacefully between us
with cherub breath
as your Barry White bed
with its sheets of purple satin
snickered in chaste irony
and we yawned like sleepy sphinxes
under alabaster nudes
that your father left in his wake—
vague ladies in dim tracklight
combing their hair, gazing in pools
like pallid sentinels of Venus.

You were never afraid of death,
only of dying young
without having tasted enough of life—
so you kept your suitcase ready
for my calls:
restless road trips
through forests, castles
and Francophone hearts,
full with tea and risotto,
seated high on window ledges—
damp with the blood of tattoos,
asleep in yogic peace
in blue attics—

and returning home to your sanctuary
where a letter awaited you from Italy:
a man we both knew was all wrong,
but his letters were so pretty.
I understood this, and loved you for it.

So it is you I seek now—
relisher of my secrets,
gourmet of intrigue,
weaver of intricate tales.
It is you who will understand
and just listen
to all my heart holds inside.
It’s you who will let my story breathe,
give it a name,
honor it
for the mystery it is.

I love you for for knowing
that passion is complex
and not about obtaining;
it is a story to be told,
tasted over and over—
a gift to be unwrapped
in breathless suspense—
whether or not
its color was what you asked for.

© Psyche Marks 2007

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