The Tonsure

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The nun’s beguiling hands brush my skin,
the distant touch of desire.
Before the many folded silences of his statue,
she cuts away the strands that were my life.
Now the razor is like a riot of river stones
rolling across my scalp,
the collision of bleached skulls in the infinite eaves.

With each falling strand,
I am losing my way.
How strange this feeling of heedlessness,
as though I find a kind of ecstasy
in these outspread jet-black blades,
like a cold and irretrievable lacquer folding fan.

And amidst all this loss,
the beautiful core of my desolation,
a white blossom held in the statue’s hand.
When I emerge from my tonsure,
to the cloister’s waiting mountain,
you will not recall me,
and the bald snow will caress my head
like a memory of life.

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The Adulterers

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Three days you lay sick from what I had done,
with the knowledge of our nights inside you.
Like spilled ink that flows into atrocious purples,
they cannot be taken back.

Your maid tried to kill herself,
the shame had become like an unbearable child.
Kneeling before her confession,
she wore that thick and ugly whiteness
that spurred us both on to seize our forfeit paradise.

This world of doll-like beauty,
the weight of a thousand-year-old paper folding fans,
which we dared to destroy with our bodies’ provocations,
ranges against us now with measured ferocities.

It is now, when at last I have lost you to them
that the vision of your soiled cloaks sears me.

Through layer after layer the ink comes, irrevocable,
mixing our dark bloom of love with
finely sutured lotuses, sullen tigers, impossible cranes.

Were those robes not like exquisite chambers
which this century had meticulously prepared for you?
When the ink breached them, we both wept with joy,
for they became the one pristine debasement I could offer you.

The Reply

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You who see me and say
she is this and this,
and I can contain her within my day,

I am not for you.
Even in my softest moments I am not like that.

I demand atrocious summers,
the glistening throats of youth,
darkened by my heat, and a pyre of impossibilities.

You are like the one who,
on seeing an empress with her dazzling entourage,
bends down on one knee,

and promises conquests in her name.
You lover of lights, of worlds, my suitors are few.

I disdain your hunger for victories,
for to conquer is to set limits,
to choose just one, cruelty or tenderness.

But what if both were to contradict
your wounded mouth?
What would love be to you then,
a black-blue devouring moth?

Do you really want its desolation
as much as its laughter?