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Saturday, 27 September 2014


One long, dry summer,

we were as close

as an electric storm on the way,

and the sweet, toasty smell of your

corn husks hanging in my pantry

was the perfume of a dusty, Southern longing.

I thought you an old man-

selfish and virile-

but really only sixty-three.

I once cut your sparse, grey hair,

while I secretly bled,

repelled by the deep, ingrained cracks

in the leathery skin

of your sun-toughened neck.

We met for bitter coffee, most weeks,

and you brought me piles of library books

smelling of applewood smoke,

and you lent me a recording

of Spanish songs se llama ‘Cantemos en Espanol’

(El Unicornio, Ojala, La Maza)…

I used to drink gin and smoke bindies

and listen to Mercedes Sosa’s

beautiful, sad groanings

in my orange vinyl and plywood caravan-

would lie weeping, heavy, lethargic,

my inner thighs itching with sweat

on the orange foam mattress,

and I’d be filled to a hot aching

with a new desire,

and with the sweet, burnt dust-memory

of corn shucks.

Secretly, I would play a tape

on which you’d recorded yourself

reading ‘Sunstone’ in your graveled tones

(or perhaps it was Borges…),

the Spanish words a sand-sifting, a delicious seduction,

a secret fever that I kept hidden.

You were almost indifferent to me-

I knew that-

but it seemed you had dryly breathed me back to life.

My troubled core an earth-oven of longing,

the aftermath of my closetings was always tainted

with the smoky, toasted musk of corn husks.



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