Story of My Life
Two desires, like twins I tend to:
the one to be
and the other to hold.
The first looks like envy,
when the brunette in cowboy boots cycles past
smoking a cigarette, her hair in a French braid.
She isn’t sweating
like I am, through my shirt for the third time today.
She doesn’t hurry.
Or later, in the park
where I am killing time, when the woman
on rollerblades shows me the shape
of what I sit on the edge of,
the same cobbled circle as always.
Looping and looping in a short dress.
Pixie cut. Perfect port de bras.
Her own music in her ears.
I read a book about a woman
who loves a man.
I relate. My own music.
Now the other desire cries out,
as though I can only neglect him for so long—
And there he is, this time
taking the form of a skateboarder
so lithe and dark-haired it hurts to look at him
though of course I can’t stop,
knowing I’ll have to go eventually, or he will,
and then I may never again have the pleasure
of looking at him. The pain I mean.
In my teeth.
I think of an Elaine Scarry line—
“The first demand of beauty is to keep looking”—
but when I go to look it up later, it’s not there.
In fact, I wrote it, in my notes
on the book where I thought I’d find it,
the one about beauty and justice and error.
He’s not very good.
At skateboarding I mean:
he can’t quite clear
the base of the statue that’s drawn him here
and keeps tumbling away from his board.
Scarry says the first demand of beauty is replication.
I’ve already written this poem,
in this park, though it was a different statue
and a different man.
Is desire without pain possible?
Is desire possible without pain?
Really, I want to know.
I want to stop writing this poem.
I want him to say Yes.
And how graceful she is, avoiding his orphaned board
as it rolls her way.