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Chancellor Florida State Poets Association
Florida Poet Laureate Volusia County
Winner of 2011 American Poet Prize
No one makes love in European cities. Instead of sex,
a café con leite in a leaning café, bread and olives
like offerings or props between strangers. Between rooftops
blank bed sheets wave, flags without countries, on cable lines.
Hope for a better life ceased with the people’s resistance.
In courtyards, dull statues of poets, cats in heat mime
some godless coupling. What made us come here? Films like La Mime,
or Il Postino where love is a mailman’s song to a wide-hipped woman and sex
is a long suggestion in close-ups of mouths. Courses in college, where olive
trees figured fertility and lovers in rivers or on moon-soaked rooftops
promised a holy union. How we tracked in tripping rhythms and limping lines,
those foreign places, foreign minds. And, your score-catching resistance
to seeing a pulse in the poems that I swore was mine – a resistance
that divided us then, but steadies us now, where marriage is an ancient, sacred mime:
Montana’s native dance, a bushman’s song. In the hotel room next to ours, sex
solves a couple’s dispute: breaths in small calls and answers like olive
branches; breaths in syllabics that drift over bedsheets and rooftops
like rhapsodies the ancients masked and mimed; sighs that recall the faint line
between hunger and dying. Their post-coital quiet, like a lingering thought or line,
makes us pause. In the quiet, a sheer curtain takes air, a quiet resistance
to differences in hotel rooms, in heartaches, in countries, in love’s metered mime.
For a few moments, we bathe in it. We are fluent in all languages, fluent in sex.
From our window, a row of houses, an etch-a-sketch of intersecting lives, olive-
toned children run home. A new moon casts drying bed sheets, quiet rooftops
in a truer beige-bone. Below, an elderly pair flirts in open vowels and faint, staccato lines –
Whitman’s free verse, Petrarch’s cypress vine. The body’s sung hunger; the soul’s mournful mime.
We are almost home, love. For now, this is where god is: desire’s ancient theater, promises, olives.
Copyright © 2018 M. B. McLatchey. All rights reserved.
Published in Harpur Palate of Binghamton University, Fall 2018, Vol. 18.1.
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