The Invention of the Darling

My friend and I are in love with the same woman.

He says, Her kisses open wounds in me
through which you can see all the way

to the smoke rising from those ancient altars
streaming with the wine, milk, and fresh blood
of our earliest rites and ceremonies.

Sacred love has savage roots, I tell him.

He says, I’m an illuminated book
written in a language I don’t know and full
of images difficult to interpret. In the light

of her reading, her eyes waking each letter of me,
her fingers running along each sentence of me,
her voice sounding each phrase,
her breath touching each pause in me,

the pictures move, and every syllable burns
bright, ringing, to disclose
the grief-stricken paths of wisdom.

Do all lovers begin in hell and end in knowledge? I ask him.

I wish I could play an instrument. I’d write a song
about her. I wish I could sing. I’d sing
about her. I wish I could write a poem.
Every line would be about her.

Instead, I listen to my friend speak
of this woman we both love,
and I think about all the ways she is unlike
anything I could say about her
and everything else in the world.

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