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Venus Cycle

It is the rhythm of distance.

December 12, 2023

Was I ever a moth
or you this kind of light?

One of us was dying, and one
had no wings for the journey back.

My heartwhich has been wrong
more times than I can count
has been right more.

It tells me what yours tells me there will be trouble,
confusion, but no war.

And no heart catheterization will alleviate
the blocked roads to you,
yes, but this: of two in distance always one is

the more severed. The episode lives
its natural course: we’re not wounds, not whole.

Walking in a forest we hear white thunder.
But no white thunder lives in this forest.
We had not walked in this forest before, and the trees,
redwoods, are not trees we live with,
they’re trees we visit. A redwood has decided to surrender
one of its dead. The rumbling rotten limb kills you
or me, and life is changed for those who grieve us.

We go out for a second cigarette
on the balcony during a lull in the war.
I feel that I will have you
forever because I have lost you for good.
You say the sea jazz in the morning sends
a briny breeze to your pores,
and away from the sea you’re insomniac.

The sea in you is a fever. No one does well
when they don’t sleep well,
it’s literally torture.
And the world doesn’t care
because all hearts are in love.
What I left behind to love you,
and what you, me.

What if I walked my rhythm to yours,
listened to my body as you listen to your body?
And when you’re not listening well
I can listen to what in you taught me listening.
We can’t bleed together
but we can breathe together.
So that when I’m a stranger in the world
I can find you.

To kiss you again,
your soft eyes,
the hermeneutics of your
hospitable highway
to my chattering wheels.
I shut my mouth,
pave a road for you, a country
road stripped by ranch
and meadow silences.
I was looking up at you,
rolling joints with your nipples,
and all you said was “I’m so wet,”
as if God had commanded me to read,
to trace the lace,
and you curled fetal,
let me spoon you, let my hand
drain the blood from your head
as behind your lids
you travelled into why
after why an orphean kiss is fine:
I want to be hurt
to dissipate into plumage
for seven years in which you’re not
sound or sight.
I’d like to kiss you
then to the Gulag go missing.
Where your cheek meets your neck,
my nose leads my lips.

It is the rhythm of distance.
If the rhythm of my distances
from you is as yours is from me.
Or maybe the distances
we offer others are our asking
for the distances we’d like to receive.
Neither postulate is true alone.
A nameless desire is tamed when named,
and spring lasts longer than its bloom.
We’re living a staggering carnival
with aloe minarets, cacti cupolas,
the paloverde mothering the fence,
honeysuckle’s jasmine envy,
and a thorny metamorphosis,
a jellyfish gone terrestrial with
diaphanous red petals,
anthers like a chandelier
of crisp fried crumbs
on a sushi roll. I enter
already assimilated.
The thought that distracts from
the experience of the body
is an experience of the body.
That stalk we watched rise above all
others in the garden of a mystery packet
you bought last summer opened
its satellite face for days,
astrolabe of our hearts—foreign,
novel, thrilling, it was
the distance thrower we flamed.
This close, this alive, this haptic
on my phone screen,
your “good morning” to me
for weeks. We identified the flower
on a search engine.
It was common.

Every hour, sixty memories.
What’s for dinner?
Who’ll pick up the kids from school?
Soccer practice.
Either pleasure
gives in to this line of questioning
or rules supreme over click-and-send.
Eros unto dying.
A randomized open-label
for two horses trading necks
between ecstasy and the monks
of falling into themselves.
Worms have no I,
they have you and me.

And home has a home in the heart.
In your textile skin, ambling dermatomes,
trabeculations of my heart,
in air or water, little stones
sculpt sound:
systole folds what diastole opens,
big bang, the inaugural heart.

And the moon wanes to crescent
then grows back its heart.
My root, your root
come home to root:

a life is wasted
that did not love,
so how can we perish?

Can you hear
our balance stones
bathing in the waves,
diaphragms slipping and sliding?

Your shoulders dive
away from your auricular pools.
My breath asks for less

Is your heart expanding?
Are there any statues

left standing
in mine? The feeling
images our brains:

a dove at our window
with a sealed note in its beak.
A dove at our feet.

A pigeon. A cooing
silhouette tagged for sitting
at the edge of taste.

The water was clear.
We stayed in it.

This poem appeared in We Call to the Eye & the Night: Love Poems by Writers of Arab Heritage, edited by Hala Alyan and Zeina Hashem Beck and published by Persea Books.