I wrote this poem in the ruins outside the village where I’m staying. Because I used to be an actor and am very in love with the power of the spoken word, often, my poems feel to me like they were born to be spoken, not read. So I recorded myself reading this, right after I finished writing it. I did a terrible job. I cut off the tip of my nose at times and sputtered over some words, but I still want it to be shared aloud. So here it is. The text is below, just in case my reading is confusing.
While in France, I’m creating a collection of travel essays and poems I’ve written over the years called Beaming Up. This poem, inspired by graffiti on a wall down the street from my apartment, and written while sitting in the ruins on the hill overlooking the village, will be included. (I should have had a French friend check the French, since mine sucks. I promise I will before it’s published. Sorry if it’s terrible.) This one goes out to the one I love.
FER L’AMOUR DUR TOUJOURS
In France, the cacophony of a foreign tongue settled in my ears until it became un-strange, and I began to collect words like shiny pebbles.
Un coueur. Heart.
Un oeil. Eye.
Un os. Bone.
I built a body from sounds until you stood before me whole, each sacred shred labeled in a language born to epitomize beauty.
“Fer l’amour dur toujours,”
scrawled on the wall outside my house.
The iron of love lasts forever.
I knew it was true. Here, in this village of stones, overrun by lilacs, built on the bones of centuries, they do not say, “We have had a relationship.” They say, “We have a story.”
Nous avons une historie.
Under the arched back of an ancient bridge, a river runs. Herons walk on water. I watch them, tracking our story back to the banks of a blue-green stream where we first sprang like lotus flowers, our hands clasped, a single lifeline stretched across two palms, winding around and down our wrists, up our arms, into our hearts, to the time when we slept as one in the womb-mind of the universe
until the zygote of us divided,
Deux fleurs divines.
You are a continent away, and still, when you weep in my dreams, it wrecks me, infects me with a horror that lasts all day, my hands grasping empty air, aching to hold you until our crying quiets and dies.
Until death do us un-part
your eyes are my tunnels of light, gateways to a God who lived long before empires thought to name him and claim him, a God who wrote her signature in a book composed in the elegant language of dark matter and DNA, a God who does not play by our petty rules but wanders wide beyond our sky, leaving footprints.
Atoms breaking, exploding into brilliant mushroom clouds of doom, then wrestling to bond, wind back down, become one again.
(And without the apocalypse of separation, could we ever have stories?)
This place has embraced me, made me its honored guest. Each night, I drink wine on terraces and flower strewn rooftops that aren’t mine, laughing with friends, gazing into the eye of a castle ruin that watches us from the hill, and yet without you I am always
under a cold moon, I wander cobblestones, home to my bed. There, I stare at the Van Gogh stars swirling outside my window. I pray when I sleep you will come to me and sing the song that was carved on my heart before I took this body.
Chanter pour moi, mon amour divin, si’l vous plaît.
My soul will rest best when God writes the chapter of our story
wherein my marrow
melts back into your bones.