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Love, an Index

Fate, about which Breton and Eluard asked in an issue of Minotaur:
              What was the most significant moment
              of your life, and did you recognize it at the time?
              Sunflower. Clocktower. Love revealed,
              not pursued. Umbrella. Sandwich. Despite ourselves.
     Panda we drove to the party from the church, Kathryn
              between Robin and Geoff. After the festivities we headed south,
              tried to sleep in the car. There are no real pandas
              in Ireland, but there are badgers. One came snuffling around
              as we sat in the patio finishing a bottle of wine. It was looking
              for table scraps, as we almost always were, too.
     Ulysse we took to Sulmona to visit Ovid’s birthplace, to walk
              cobbled streets strung with Christmas lights, to buy confetti
              almonds gold-wrapped as grape-cluster, pussywillow.
              On the way to the Parco Nazionale, rain and hairpin
              mountain curves sent a sedan fishtailing into us. The carabinieri
              wanted to know if there were bears
              in the part of America we came from. Yes, we said,
              many bears. Man-eating bears? Yes, of course,
              many man-eating bears.
Fragment, I am a fragment of us. I am a fragment composed 
              of fragments. Mosaic, pastiche, ruin. Everyday 
              consciousness proposes lightbulb, ropeswing, teapot, 
              David Bowie, your sweater on, your sweater off, tomatillo,
              not dissociated but associated. Parts suggesting
              the whole they long to be gathered into.
Frank O’Hara, superior poet and personist. I cannot pick up
              the telephone and call you, so I write you poems. 

Hacienda Guachipelín, a farm in Costa Rica near Rincon de la Vieja
              on the Nicaraguan border. You climbed a volcano while I
              rode a horse with a vaquero called Henry. Waterfall.
              Coatimundi. I met some stewardesses at a hot spring
              who painted me with mud, which cured my sunburn.
              You came back covered in mud but also sunburn.
              Gin and tonics by the pool. You kept rolling yours across your brow.
              A woman carrying a sloth up the mountain asked you
              “Do you want to touch my sloth?” You said no, 
              you were pretty sure she’d try to charge you. Both of us
              saw many creatures that day but neither glimpsed the elusive quetzal.
Heart, José Asunción Silva put on a white shirt
              and went to the doctor. He asked the doctor to draw on his shirt
              the exact size and location of the human heart in the body.
              Silva went home, loaded a pistol, muzzled it dead center 
              of the careful outline and fired.

Idealize, to abstract oneself. A street is for walking or driving on, not
              for contemplating time’s passage. The confusion lies 
              in that it takes time to walk down a street, depending 
              how far away the milk and bandaids live. 
Idolize. to make of an idea a thing, to object-
              ify. In this way, an idea of harvest is found
              in a stone woman with stone breasts.
Interstate, such as I-80, one stretch of which traverses
              Utah and Wyoming. Sometimes we drove it,
              stopping at Little America for almond M&Ms,
              diet Coke and gas. Sometimes we were driven
              like snow, or in a bus with itinerant preachers,
              haggard young mothers, deadheading truckers, gangsters and vampires and guys with get-out-
              of-Dodge tickets from the police in Reno. That last guy,
              I bought him a coffee because he looked so sad.

Julian of Norwich tells us “sin is behoovely,” meaning
              “fitting,” meaning only by sinning can we
              receive God’s mercy. Good, I sin a lot. She also
              tells us “All shall be well and all shall be well
              and all manner of thing shall be well.” Good, too.
Just, not in the sense of “right” or “fair” but “simply” or 
              “enough,” example: Just because the world is beautiful
              doesn’t mean it will satisfy us.

Kuchinoerabu-shima, an island (see also: Volcano). You called me
              from the ferry. That stupid iPhone. I was talking about Zukofsky, 
              you were saying you hate Zukofsky. You were happy and told me
              I would hate it there, the sea was very rough. You said
              “I love you, I miss you.” I said, “I love you, I miss you, too.” 
              You said, “Tell Robin I love him.” 
              That’s as far as I went with you to the end.

Laramie, a small Wyoming town with a ceaseless wind
              and a school. I brought my cat, read Sappho 
              at the coffee shop nearest the rail line. Jim and Dora 
              came up from Ty Siding for a Fourth of July barbeque.
              Every now and then we’d walk to the Buckhorn
              for a Fat Tire and I always said something
              about the two-headed calf mounted on the wall, bullet 
              holes in the mirror and you always said
              “You always say something about those.”
     Meyer variety, much more like fruit than your average
              lemon, softer rinds and sweeter oils. You
              introduced me to these, as to many things and you
              brined them for tagine. How I love that word, tagine.
     soap, when I got out of the shower you grinned,
              “You’re a clean little lemon drop. C’mere.”
Love, what we call it when it keeps feeling that way. But what is
              it? A private language? A motion
              ever towards? A promise the body makes
              to remember those shoulderbones, and is it always
              a kind of mourning?
Lyric, a quiet form for minor praise or meditation
              or a way of pleading. When the epic is over
              and heroes are dead and the wanderers 
              have all come home and the enslaved women
              have learned the language of their new land, lyric
              will pour the wine, tune the instrument, sing
              of dead hearth fires, the brambles and vines
              retaking the forsaken kingdom.

Risk, “What you risk reveals what you value,” Winterson
              writes, “You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play.” 
              What are the wages of art? Of being? The same 
              as the wages of sin, I think, which makes 
              a certain kind of sense.
Rome, we spent much time shopping
              for vegetables. You held my hand as we wandered
              the Esquiline market, where an Arab vendor
              told us we could see his fish were freshest because
              their eyes most resembled glass. The rabbits all have
              ears so customers can be certain they aren’t stray cats.
              We stopped at the gyro place, bags bristling with onion stems 
              and fennel. Back home we left our bags slumped 
              in the kitchen and laid down together, bedroom 
              awash with afternoon sun. I remember my eyes stung 
              with the excess of light.

Sacrifice, but why? Why give up what you can 
              just give? You always said, “It’s not a zero-sum game”
              and I always said, “It all evens out in the end.”
              I still believe both things are true, and
              that we have not yet come to the end.
Sanctify, William Blake writes, “‘When the sun rises, 
              do you not see a round disc of fire 
              somewhat like a guinea?’ ‘O no, no, 
              I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host 
              crying Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.’” 
Sappho wrote lyric poetry (see also: Lyric) of which 
              only fragments remain (see also: Fragment). She wrote
              about desire (see also: Desire) and love (see also: Love, Mad Love
              Fate, Need, Comfort, Risk, Bollywood, Quandry, Ex–, and Poetry).
              She was Greek (see also: Greece) and as this entry suggests,
              the origin (see also: Myth) of almost everything
              that matters to me (see also: Attention). 
Sistine Chapel, where I took my mother her first day in Rome.
              When we stopped looking up and looked instead at each other,
              my mother’s eyes were full. “I studied this,” she said,
              “so closely. But I never really thought I’d get to see it
              in person.” That was my very best day.
Skype, a program for live webchat. You turned your screen
              to face the hostel wall and said, “Okay, go,” 
              and I lifted my shirt. Like teenagers, how we snickered.
Split, Croatia, built within emperor Diocletian’s deserted
              summer palace. I once loved a man from there.
              Where the floor has fallen into the basement,
              a gangplank. In the crumble, a soccer ball, a bicycle tire,
              punk rock graffiti. A narrow street named “Let-Me-Pass,”
              a harbor full of Saudi Arabian yachts, Swiss schooners
              and a promenade lined with jet-set youngsters smoking
              and looking around to see who’s looking at them. You 
              sent me there with an archaeological expedition
              to do my own digging. Something in me, under
              all those layers of now-being-loved, still felt left.

You. Yes, you. (see also: Write, Frank O’Hara, Telephone,
              Desire, Need, Abandon, Binary, Forgive, Poetry, 
              Attention, Partner and Just.)

Zephyr, the other wind. Not the mistral
              but the green-faced wind 
              with its cheeks puffed out. The stir
              of tablecloths, sundresses, curls, budding
              ideas about romance, fragrant boughs.
              The one that makes you forget
              and not feel sorry after.
Zenith, the utmost. The height of. Perfect, 


Rebecca Lindenberg’s poems appear or are forthcoming in the Believer, Colorado Review, No Tell Motel, BlazeVOX, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, POOL, Barrow Street, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, and she is completing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.