Anthony Seidman





Parcourir à loisir ses magnifiques formes.” —Charles Baudelaire

     Celeste is the sound of water being poured into a glass; she’s the sting of winter air, and the boundless jungles steaming in the irises of a cat; she is bread and coffee for breakfast; she is the scratch of a beetle digging into a forest floor made of wood chips. She is the unapprehended relation between things: the pitch of an ambulance’s siren that fells a redwood in Northern California. The elevator in a mall in Syracuse, New York that lifts a wave above the trough of weaker currents off Sicily upon reaching the third floor.
     I didn’t encounter her during radiant summers I spent on the beach in San Sebastian; nor, when still dripping with cool desires, did I meet her when my pen first licked paper with syllables that soared and sprayed into clusters of bird and foam; nor was she the woman who pushed the shopping cart with a vat filled with corn which she would butter and dust with chile powder while my friends and I drank beer in the projects facing the sunburnt chaparral hills of San Fernando.
     I met her—or rather, she accosted me—as I wandered the Pronaf district in Juárez. In cafes painted the colors of bubblegum and denim, the wives of doctors and their lovers played chess or had coffee. It was a summer evening, and all my friends had saved enough money to take trips to the coast, or to drink in the bright plazas of Guadalajara. As I walked, a wind began hissing around me, although the night had been devilishly still and hot. Dust gritted in my teeth; a woman flashed before me with the speed of a light flickering on & off during a thunder storm. Her face was an aperture that led to many faces simultaneously: the virgin in her first ecstasy. An Etruscan handmaiden. A girl in a field of snow. Mary, Ishtar with hair aflame and skin the color of pearl. A waitress pouring coffee in a diner outside of Modesto, California. A queen wearing a red wig; a prostitute rolling up her skirt on a stained mattress. The vision dissolved in the air and left the smell of burnt wood, yet the wind whispered in my ear, and I opened my palm, and put her in my pocket.
     Upon arriving home—after an impossible bus trip with her breath billowing my shirt and pants—I took her out of my pocket. At once, my papers flew, books were thumbed and tossed, my armoire fell with a crash, and the sheets on my bed rippled over the full shape of her body. I fumbled with my buttons and zipper, and then slipped into bed. That night, my nerves ripened; I became every man at the apex of orgasm. Soft teeth bit my breath, her words heavy with hemlock shot through my veins, and poured out my mouth in the shape of smoke.
     The next morning I awoke in an empty bed, and with a tangle of sheets and a headache that usually follows the lucidity of drunkenness. In wet ash, she had written her name across the wall. I spent that day awaiting her; during the following weeks, I would search the streets. In the evenings, I wrote poem after poem, hoping to summon her through the necromancy of metaphor.
     It is only now, after five years, I realize her door opens where thirsts intersect. From that encounter, my hunger has been sharpened; meat doesn’t satisfy me. I want to devour all the rain of India, and drink starlight dry. She has inhabited me so that I might fashion her in this flimsy simulacrum and write of her arrival with a gust of wind at your window. Let her in

Copyright © 2004 Anthony Seidman.  All Rights Reserved.

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