Two more tango poems by L. Kwan (He’s cranking them out).
First Tango Lesson
In the beginning. Not feet.
But small children who were raised in the forest, vying to be in front of the other, their earnest display of welcome.
I remember long ago playing with them in the forest.
When I saw the men with guns coming and I abandoned them.
My language tossed aside.
Only interest and wonder at such difference or indifference on our parts, eyes taking in what I might call “countenance.”
In other words
How to communicate my hunger
Now that I too was in their forest. How to survive with grubs and berries, roots dug up and acorns ground into gruel.
How naked I became.
Not even a rag to cover my loins before them.
Hair matted to their foreheads, dirt on the brow and chin, their tongues tasting every green thing and remembering the scent on their upper lips.
Such wildness of feeling I had lost
They were still children after all
Human like me.
One a boy. The other a girl. Teaching something simple but necessary to share. They stood there and took turns holding me.
The word for shelter.
Between nights of tango, the day fills itself
with space shuttles perched on jumbo jets,
a reminder that even our loftiest efforts must end.
At the office, we rush onto the roof, gravel and tar
pungent and crunching beneath our shoes.
The wind splits our collars and this close to the edge
the street-stuck gawkers ten stories below us. I get woozy
with imagining gravity and breaking it, like water rising
to the chest, carried into salty seas, or a sudden womb
enveloping my grown body, how being held and holding you
feels simultaneous, what the interior of a circle must be.
Our CEO shouts and points at a large seagull, again
at a plastic bag, jellyfish puffing through the rare air,
everything not quite what we want to see,
but no one’s cynical this high up, and we’re all in love
with what we might see and dizzy ourselves,
each second another door into the possible,
the delay of gratification more satisfying
than the thing itself, ceremoniously lumbering
its space-weary cargo across downtown’s rake of buildings
where you illuminate my darkest corners, throw flares
into the unknown. Curiosity can fling a man
from an entire planet, this much I know. We risk love
everyday. Tonight, I’ll step into your space and feel the clean
coldness of you, weightless in your vastness
where our most precise experiments can be tested.
And though you may refuse my theories, I know
my body warms you, as any body in heaven would.