Between the bed and the window, in that space that smells roses and rien que pour toi, the morning let’s her hair down. She is so close that I can reach her skin with the tip of my fingers.
I know, his book and the fame it brought him. The book in which he made me — the me that he imagined — the main character.
He was fascinated by the purple of my makeup and the yellows of my cobra who used to erect the upper portion of her body to greet him every time he visited.
I do not know what demons he tried to exorcise. In the heat of those summer afternoons, he used to sip his sangria and attempt to find almost religious justifications for what he called my ecstatic existence; an existence populated with the richness and succulence of the Mediterranean literature and void of bullet points.
His acute shyness and his need to overcome the incapacity to love beyond nightly adventures used to ring in my ears like some unhinged marimba lamenting the loss of a pipe.
The dress that I wear in page twenty-seven. That dress and the heart-shaped red stone pierced with a hole for suspension I used to wrap around my neck. I found that stone in a church yard. I was too young. Perhaps an older version of me would have made him a better writer. Do not laugh. You are too handsome when you laugh.
In the end he managed to do something special. He invented the name of a perfume and made me wear it in every page of his book: rien que pour toi.
I hid his book somewhere in the library. Yet, every morning, in the space between the bed and the window, it still smells rien que pour toi.
Excerpt from my new manuscript of love poems and short prose.
He was a great novelist. He avoided the big juvenile traps: on the one hand, repeatedly writing about one’s childhood and one’s limited experiences, and, on the other hand, confining his characters to slogans such as do good or better days are ahead.
He knew he went against the grain of what was considered acceptable in his country; a country in which the novel frequently used everything from camaraderie to horror, and from war to sex, in order to avoid the birth of a new Emma Bovary. Emma’s sensuality would have scandalized a society in which some, if not most, deified violence and crucified sensual love. Should I mention The Scarlet Letter?
He loved me. In his last note to me he wrote:
“Love and sensuality include divination: a thirst for deciphering the signs inscribed in the sacred area of our subconscious, a craving for knowing what the future holds, and the supplication that providence or god will fulfill our desires.
How much we want that which is not only given to us but that which we create too: Mircea Eliade’s homo religiosus, that alter-ego who lives inside us and conjures the meanings we create in sacred times and spaces.
Scents of linden trees illuminated by an old oil lamp. The night is me. I am the night where love delights dwell. Shed you skin and come with me where minutes melt like chocolate on the tongue of a child. You, sweetness from beyond the body, what can one say about you?
My poetry is neither the chronicle of my sufferings nor the chronicle of my loves as many seem to believe. It does not contain the description of my marital status nor that of my accomplishments. It does not record my joys or my passions with the precision of a timeclock. It does not dwell in my sadness. Sadness is the place where I dwell when I write the word sea and I cannot understand its meaning the way Elytis understood it. I was not born in Hellada. I can use that as an excuse for my poetic inadequacies.
My poetry is that which comes from the realm of the unfulfilled. It is the echo of the waves that you can guess but cannot see because they are not born yet. It is the voice of the blood that dries on the feet of the prophets. It is the dream of my cheeks that you will never touch. My poetry is the body of a Sunday that forgot to put walnuts and cinnamon in its baklava. It is the promise of tomorrow.
Three years ago I bought a silver icon at an auction. The icon belonged to the M. family. They used to be one of the most preeminent families on the island of Crete. Hellada was tattooed in my non-Hellenistic soul by the will of my parents, not by mine. You cannot stage a coup against your own baptism when you are four months old.
I was in love in Hellada. So much for “Let’s fall in love in Spain.” Every time the church bells tolled, he, the one who loved me, used to bring me daffodils. One daffodil for each bell toll. When the church bells stopped tolling I had so many daffodils that I could not carry them anymore. I had to let them fall on the ground.
I ran and I took the first ship out of Piraeus.
Until this day he – the one who loves me – still waits for the girl that will keep his daffodils and marry him.
Of course, he does. There is always the promise of tomorrow. There is always my poetry and there is always one more night of passion.
Motto I get drunk on love, charity, and passion. These are my professions.
I walk into the three days we spent together.
On the first day, a nude silence wraps around my lips. Shortly after I can hear the noise of wine poured into glasses.
The hour to get drunk on love has come.
I touch your skin and another you is born.
Birds invade the sky.
A banquet of candles floods the streets.
A white thread ties my blood vessels at the exact moment when a religious procession walks by.
On the second day, drunk on charity, my sights descend upon the earth.
The dirty hands of the woman who owns wells touch my skin.
I hear your voice. I will not counsel her or belittle her desires. All she will do is sell her fake dreams in the corner of an empty street for her entire life.
I forbid you.
By punishing her you would have ruined the very thing you set out to safeguard: our love.
On the third day, stars melt in our palms like soft grapes in winepresses.
The intimations of you and I, with their smell and softness of grass and late autumn roses, invade the room.
A convulsive joy impregnates your eyes.
Words have no pigments and no form. Their register sinks in gravity, shiny coil by shiny coil, musical key by musical key, sleepy touch by sleepy touch.
The perfection of the afternoon’s poplars blesses the air.
Possessed by passions, under the wing of a bird, we died three days ago.
Feminine sexual scars: real, invented, and in some cases only dreamed. Wounds exposed in plain view in order to obtain something in exchange. If not justice, then sympathy. If not sympathy, then the attention of a certain male prototype.
A desperation to direct the masculine imagination toward the submissive feminine with its painful blows; blows exacerbated by the brutality of our patriarchal society. Yet something more was added to that: female purple skin calling for the asperity of males’ touches, abandon, suggested nudity, swollen lips, tons of adjectives filled with a sickening excess of sweetness.
I remember him saying.
An entire arsenal of attraction built on wounds that should be sanctified not used to incite maleness. Those women hang their sexual lesions like paintings on walls for the sole purpose of giving males glimpses under their underwear.
C’mon. You know it.
I did not. However, he was a man of high intellect. It was difficult to go against him. I had to wait. I had to outmaneuver him.
So, I played my feminine submissive part. Add some madness to that and I am quite sure I looked like Ophelia running from room to room dressed in black negligees incapable of understanding my own distress. What a nightmare.
It was a sort of dematerialization that left behind the scent of orange blossoms and the vague memory of sultry afternoons growing by the margins of the pond: those afternoons in need for seed germination. I am sure you can remember them.
You and your love for me which have always looked for my blood. I told you I am air and therefore I do not have a body. I fill the space in which other bodies manifest themselves.
I am every breath you take in your nights of love when …please continue readinghere