Lying beside a Woman, with a Jet Lag
Well, this woman is neither my wife nor my mistress or lover-to-be;
she is a friend, smart and glamorous, who believes in me
that I can be more than a casual friend.
In a country foreign to me, she chooses to act as a cultural hostess
to maintain my foreignness at a comfortable level.
She says she could do with a stay-away from her country house,
so she arranges a visit to the city “for the dirty air” as she says.
The fact is, both of us want to save money through not spending more,
therefore we decide to split the hotel bed and bill.
We are clever enough, of course, and we know even one night
of this luxury will make us closer than before,
which might be our unpronounced wish;
of course if we want to overdraw, a trip of a week is a little to short.
For a candlelight dinner on the hotel’s third floor,
we draw an advance on the savings from the impending night.
With two glasses of Bordeaux, I notice that the bosomy jazz vocal
sounds a little drunk, and her squeak throaty Empty Bed
goes even to my crotch. So bluesy gooood!
And I leave a handsome tip for the gay-look waiter,
and I usher her to the sightseeing lift.
Now is the time I become cooler as if by the night air.
I am a man, and of this I am fully aware.
My awareness also goes deep to my spine and scrotum,
but my heart shakes like a stretched smile.
The rising has a slowness—
the stately centenarian mansions become lower and lower,
the glass-and-concrete towers soar with us, higher and higher.
Now, my mind is an LCD, panorama,
upon which float scenes from a silent movie in technicolor.
Even if no one hears what I’ve said to myself,
it has already meant something beyond what I mean.
Over the lighted city and intimacy, the night sky is invisibly gray.
Tonight, we will lie down, somewhere, and we will not be etherized,
and we will tranquilly ramble from Bessie to Sivvy upon the double bed.
We will talk about words and words about words
and how men generically try to trap all the audience
by a mutual protocol of not letting words stand for the literal.
Therefore, I will have to distance from even myself
and learn to be at least another if not a Buddhist patriarch.
I agree there is something more than the superficial.
This is significant. Pause. Silence. Let it filter through.
This is like a mute witness who realizes words are spoken
to make the body going astray
like the mind that is easy to get paralyzed.
Outside, phallic structures are darkly hard, with splinters
ogling through the split fat curtains.
After bath, she wears a naked nightgown, kimono-style,
my eyes fall on her bare feet, the glossy toenails,
and my penis, I must say, stirs a little, despite of myself or itself.
Then I shower behind the translucent curtains, and soon
she comes in to dry her hair;
as I see her smiling at the erased vapor in the mirror,
I feel the after-kick of the wine.
But I am coming back to myself
as the soap foams rise and fall under the lotus seed head.
I am gallant like a Buddhist monk carrying a woman cross a river
and letting go at the other bank,
forgetting that there has been no bridge on the water.
Am I trying to drive the inert mind out of the excited body
or the inert body out of excited mind?
I am a man, heterosexual and married, now lying
beside a half-naked woman, in a hotel one-whole-day-flight away.
Can I claim to be a man of innocence and faith
when I am half-drunk with her female warmth in the air?
I realize my own skepticism toward this proposition,
and I also know assumptions always precede a question.
The TV is flickering, but it is the stereo that murmurs.
She is humming to the tune with a cozy laziness,
and I turn off the TV and the stereo as a compliment.
Then words naturally come in.
It must be sometime after 4 when she is too tired to comment,
eyes closed, hands still, and breath slackened,
and dusk is preparing to land in the country I come from,
but till morning I stay awake, lying as still as I can beside a woman
who is in deep sleep, beautiful and innocent like an infant.
May 9, 2007