Love's Leap

For Sappho

sweet mother I cannot work the loom
I am broken with longing for a boy by slender Aphrodite

I am a lesbian, undone by love and – unreformable addict of passion – continually re-formed by it. It is love that ages me, and hurls me back to my youth; that turns me into a spider, a bat, a hollow tortoise shell, a two-headed monster, a crushed hyacinth, a grove of oaks quivering in a storm; it is love that scatters me like dandelion seeds, and gathers me like a whirlpool sucking in flotsam and jetsam on the sea; love that strikes me dumb and makes me babble in strange tongues; that gives me life and kills me, only to resurrect me with a lightning memory; it is love that twists paradoxes true and jigsaws truths into crazy puzzles. If you love me beyond understanding, it’s because I’m broken. (Like you, the only way I know to love is to love you to pieces.)

Black prince, you’ve turned me into a nocturnal animal feeding greedily on dark love.

An ardent atomist, he wanted to analyze his mind till he arrived at an indivisible thought – one that wasn’t ambiguous or paradoxical or a crazy mixture of jumbled animals. But his impassioned mind just kept on splitting, splitting, disturbing Democritus in his grave.

Stretching toward the horizon you’ve disappeared beyond, my thirsty tongue can almost taste love's salt blue line, loss's infinity fringing sky and sea.

As for me, love has shaken my wits as a downrushing whirlwind falling upon the oaks.

Like a gust breaking Narcissus’s image on a placid lake, my love’s untoward violence has shattered my reflection in your once receiving eyes.

O shell – moveable home – sonorous relic of a lover whose departed heart’s echoes still resound, how can I replay the layered melodies of your spiraling affections – you who have harbored who knows how many lives?

Before you run away from me, I’ll run away from you. (Even my shadow has deserted me.)

A disconsolate spider, I spin filaments that lead nowhere or end suddenly in mid-air; I wind a strand (my mind unravels) round and round an empty space, weaving an echoing chrysalis. Struck dumb by longing, I spell out desolate words with a gossamer thread – invisible messages to the void.

May you forget your suffering, yourself for a night. Go – ride a stranger’s dream.

He buried himself at the golden intersection of water, earth, light, and air. Perhaps a thousands years later another lover, hearing a plangent throbbing, will dig up what’s left of him – a fatal rhythm deranging the heart.

What are these arrows flying into my eyes?

Far out of my reach they ripen, elusive words.

Without warning, his love’s skull exploded into flower – carnations spilling out of eye sockets, nose hole, and ear canals; forget-me-nots blooming from an astonished mouth.

Every time he closed his eyes, vampire memories clamored to get in. Tired of fighting them off, he opened his mouth and invited their dark flutterings in.

O dream with black wings, may you come when sleep brings forgetfulness . . . Sweet is the god. Terribly you do afflict me.

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