What He Learned From Her

He could not bring himself to take his pleasure

from her, yet he learned that the body is the body,

shrine or temple of the spirit it may or may not be.

But nipples can have hair about them, so do chins,

upper lips; her eager mouth may savour of ground

beef or the cheese salami sandwich she just ate, or

just tea and coffee—not to a strict vegetarian’s taste.

Body odours, stale sweat, morning breath, even more

pungent womens’ smells—these he must learn to accept.

The responsibility of love is such humility that he gives,

relishing the other’s inclination, indulging her even unto

a gasping joyance with the detachment of an artist:  he

didn’t know he could do all this, did he?  Like a wife

enjoying the leftovers from her husband’s plate. 

This is also a way of making love:

to give, but not take pleasure.

This is also a way of being a man:

to satisfy himself only in satisfying her.

Women loved him, craved for his company—

he’s such a charmer they said, look at his

soulful and tranquil eyes.  But in the midst

of all this, how lonely he was, crying as if

for lost mothers or beloveds, condemned to a pain

so luminous:  a wife unhappy, untouched on one side

and lovers abundant on the other.

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape