“Why don’t you write a joyful poem?”
“S’il vous plait,” she says to me,
“Poetry”- a subject about which we have spoken comparatively little,
“Is mournful by nature.”
I am struck, as if by lightning,
Not by her seeming revelation
About the nature of the artform in question,
But by the formality of her please.
She is one of those dying breed of people –
The ones who understand with brutal intimacy
The difference between te and vous,
The ones who use language like the fine edge of a blade,
Ruthless, remorseless, ravenous,
Knowing just where to wound –
How to throw salt upon one’s soul
So it will strike those pulsing, jagged wounds,
How to wield a fire, wild to the last,
And tame it.
I am silent,
And she switches back to English,
But I cannot speak,
Not in one language, nor in two.
Is, indeed, mournful by nature,
Not unlike the art of love.