Variations on the topic of eros
By Oriol Roche
Now that you are not here, I don’t know what to do
with everything that was once yours. I start with the objects:
the photographs, the notebook, the book
that weighs just as much as you weighed
when you’d hang on my arm.
The clothes: your trousers,
the shirt that you gave me and is now the memory
of absence. I continue: the thoughts that build up
in the most remote corners of the body:
glop after glop after glop of desire,
nauseating like syrup.
And the devotion that I learned to feel,
the offering from your palm to my lips: what should I do now
with the room in my gut dedicated to worship. Finally, the memories:
inside a box inside my head, within the doubt
inside the silence, within oblivion, in the tide
that moves you closer and away,
closer and away. I will find a spot where I’ll place you,
a spot where you’ll sleep ‘til I can
see your face without parting the seas and diving
into the buried soul. Memories are not memories
if they cannot be accessed.
I will get rid of you as a snake does:
shed my skin and forget it in the underbrush. And every
single thing that used to be yours will stay there, rotting in the leaves
of a neverending fall.
Today, walking along with Núria
Today, walking along with Núria,
we saw clouds with pink wombs,
pregnant with virtue. And I thought of you,
and your body, and myself.
I wonder if you know. If you know
that yesterday you opened up my pink womb and
spilt what I carried inside.
I wonder if you know that, when my body vibrated
and you trembled and panted,
you were slowly pulling out my desire from inside,
like a magic trick.
And I wanted my hands
to sink into your back, like roots;
and I wanted to make you wish you could melt.
I don’t know if you know you are first, but last night
we loved twice and each time our skins met
I hoped I’d be killed from the pleasure.
If the world had dissolved,
if the bed had flooded or someone
had come into the room, we would have kept going,
our bellies linked as if it was wrong to separate them,
pink flowing and staining the sheets.
I wonder if you know all of this,
or if you’d like to see me again.
My body is all I have: the only truth.
I don’t have thoughts, or feelings,
or wishes, or reasons: I just have my body
which is the earth where you can plant
your orchard. I am the literal body,
the weight of the organs inside of me,
under the skin. Ask me who I am and I’ll say:
if you were to open my side with a spear,
only blood would come out. The fruit of the earth
is my body, and the fruit of my body
is my surrender: bite
the apple – it’s sour
just like you like it.
Near the shore,
savouring you: fruit
of dark skin, viscous.
Run your hand through my hair,
for I’m yours and I get rid of my spirit
to become just a body
glazed in saltpeter,
stuck to the burning
sand. Listen to the waves
crashing over me.
Just like two rushes from a nearby reed,
we bend our pleasure to the beat of our joy.
Variations on the Topic of Eros
To love you like the bird that grows from my groin:
to fall into your arms, intoxicated, wounded by the beak
and the feathers. Even better:
to bloom over you like a fire,
to turn into fruit, into seed; to tear up desire
and wear it as a cape.
I make your body my plentiful field,
and in the evenings I sit on the plot and I taste
its sweet fruit. You’re skilled on the land
and fertile in bed.
After making love I pick up a towel and wipe
your skin. You get my t-shirt
from under your back and hand it to me saying here you go
and I secretly think to myself:
oh, how I wish this was everything there was to life,
your giving me my clothes, extending your hand toward me
with a gentle gesture, corporeal and true,
and I could say again and again
gràcies, t’estimo and kiss your forehead.
Slowly, reality changes:
whatever was hidden suddenly returns from the depths
and stands in front of us, apparent like a mountain,
as if desire had eclipsed all of the objects,
the thoughts, the truths, and now they came
crawling back, became visible again.
And, maybe because you’re near, I think about destiny,
just like near death
even atheists think about God.
I think about how this moment,
your soft sex so close,
weaves into tomorrow inexplicably,
a puzzle from nature which, with luck,
we won’t ever need to solve.
This poem is my revenge:
a caricature of who you were
on top of the image of who you are. Like a kid who, about fire,
only remembers how painful the burn,
so shall I only remember you
by the sharp edges
of these lines on white paper.
Translated from the Catalan by the author.
Oriol Roche is a poet and PhD candidate at University College London.