The Separation of Camille and Rodin

Auguste Rodin

No, let me turn now and go away
From your too complete fierceness.
Until you the women I loved
Remained encased in my art,
Figures I could bend in plaster, bronze,
With violence, with tenderness.

But then you burst forth,
And refusing this clay immortality
All men offer,
Deigned from the beginning
To create.

And I loved you,
Because to my sensuality you offered this
Savagery,
Female vehemence.
What in me had grown too smooth, yielding,
Discovered suddenly, in you,
A disheveled beauty that far outstripped me,
And my art became frightening.

From you I learned the craft of agony,
The torn open garden of your female genius,
That is now mine.
And what I create is ugly and essential,
The breasts of my women are inhuman,
The loins of my men collapse the world,
And those who look upon my art
Spit at its feet and turn away in contempt.

You have given me this triumph,
Returned to me stone and soil.
But I want myself back,
My languid hurt.
Your too full madness imprisons me,
And I don’t know what my art means,

For it surpasses us both
And annihilates our purpose.
No, let me turn now and go away
From your perfect love.

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Goodbye Apricot

So, you’ve packed your things
and you’re ready to go.
On a little leaf folded into a dinghy,
you set off on a great, wild wind.

It’s all too big for you,
for me alone, I fear.
You’ll smash to pieces
on some calamitous street,

or a handsome hotel drifter
will hold you tight,
and on some cheap and neon night,
ruin your pretty little feet.

I’ll read about it in the paper,
and lose my appetite,
and my day will retreat into its room
and never speak to me again.

But that’s okay,
because if I’m honest,
you’re more like the apricot’s hard core
leaping on a tide of world.

I’ll never see you again,
that’s for sure,
but you’ll grow sweeter in my mouth,
with a sweetness that is sad.

And like me,
the lovers of all your hours,
bewitched and inconsolable,
will break their lips on your dark pip.

A Kind of Madness

I couldn’t say where she is,
who she is with,
or what time she sleeps.
This sky stretches out
like an eternity of whispers,
and a tearing need blows from the east.

You ask why I can’t forget,
why I can’t just roll up my
pain with my sleeves
and get on with the business
of dying with other lovers,

fucking and bickering,
and making up,
until the sun herself
grows jaded, evicts me
from the wasted night.

You ask me why I can’t forget
a scent of wild hours
that dwelt in the dark armpits
of her fragrant life.
I don’t know, I don’t know why.

I am infected with a madness
of un-returned salt,
and even the calmest hour
is an ambush of memory.

I would like, somehow,
to exit this body of
congealed thirst,
the way one absently leaves a room,
and go far beyond
an earth of remorse

to a hill, a tower,
an unfamiliar town
that doesn’t recall me.
And then, I too
would know the liberation
of the one who kills love.

VII

Untouched, the fields of soft voice
drop far behind me.
I am the departing grass,
a palm of wind holding only solitude.
Essentially nothing,
the bodies I once held
like a clutch of nights,
are breeze beneath my heels.
I walk alone with a salt of sadness,
my own,
utterly my own.
And I aim my bone
at the intervals between love,
at the absence where everything gathers.