Before lust, before anyone could forgive us: four poems by Alex Dimitrov

Dear Friend: I have nearly died three times since morning

For a long time I would not go to bed.

You’ll remember those months and the sky
like the tip of a finger dipped in wax.

Every time I felt pleasure I held my breath—

why did you write over that line in your letter?
The snow made me forget how hot the blood is.

How another person can step into a room,
as if out of a painting,

and offer me a life.

Can you feel which part of your body this poem goes to?
Your fingers or teeth,

the top of your chest—
does it touch your face?

I was thinking we could see each other again.

At night, with our masks on,
so we know exactly who to look for.

I’ll read you this fragment of Proust

before the next snowfall, so neither us of will forget …
the better part of our memory exists outside us,

in a blatter of rain, in the smell of an unaired room …


I Am Always Thinking About You, America

A way for us to begin when beginnings have passed us.
Before you saw him you knew exactly where you wanted to put your hands.
Casually, the light in that room became what you remembered of summer.
Days of slow mornings, days of nothing but nights.
Even in a time like ours, war ends and love too.
For now I will write about love.
Going every day to that place in you that is homeless.
How quiet you were the first time you saw your mother cry.
I’m always here, yes, writing or thinking about you.
Just like that it was autumn and not spring for a long time.
Kindness was somewhere in his hands, how they shook after crossing the border.
Listening to Glass and then Brahms to feel changed, suddenly.
Mundane pleasures: coffee, orgasm, a walk down First Street.
Nights that return in the daytime and you need to sit down.
Oh I want to stop here, what more can I tell you?
President Clinton on television while we were children.
Quietly typing in a square of light in a room where you lived while people died.
Reason is not needed with us, he said.
So, “I want to know who you are,” who the “I,” who the “we” is.
Today I am returning to everyone at least once in my mind.
Until I die I want to keep telling Rachel I love her.
Voices in the house where you grew up in an afternoon, in one gaze.
What do we look for when we say, “where are you going right now?”
Xoxoxoxo x
Years that pass fast and slowly through us.
Zero apologies today but of course, there were things we did and didn’t do.


Radiance

I keep a note
a friend left in a book of photos:

lavender light over the snow flats –

and I wonder if he used it in a poem,
or if seeing, if the pleasure, was enough?

Now that you and I aren’t lovers,

I notice how the light at times
will race up your obedient body,

and reveal the flame I looked for —

the life I said I saw,
and hoped would be enough.


Sensualism

While lying in bed I think about sensualism
A mosquito presses into my skin
With such cruelty I mistake it for love

The stranger above my window decides to jump
and doesn’t. Where was I?
I was opening the door to your life

and mine. We have some words
for each other and then what?
We have some nights in a city

next to an ocean filled with
more longing than we can describe.
I want to place your hand close to the knife

and let it sit there. I want more
than the cut or how we’ll gently spill out.
The mosquito will drink

for as  long as I’ll let it. And I do.
I hold still waiting for you. The vein rises.
It is this flood of living that comes.

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Before lust, before anyone could forgive us: four poems by Alex Dimitrov