I live in Wakefield, Massachusetts and teach at Boston University. Last year I published a book of short fiction called Petites Suites. These verses also make up a little suite.
Somewhere there’s a party where people have
dressed for each other and are laughing at
each other and flirting with each other
and carrying drinks to each other and
shouting at each other over the boom
and din of merry noise.
You did this last
Saturday; now you’re doing it again.
It took all week to recoup, recover,
work out plans, leave text messages, choose
the outfit, make a date, buy the beer
and beat back the urge to run to a hut
somewhere in a forest, somewhere on a hill.
A misplaced someplace might prove magical,
a lane in the Yunnan village of Xingyun say,
or where Utzstrasse crosses the Ringstrasse.
You had your chances, displaced in places
where you might have revised your life, begun
afresh, for instance next to that fountain
in Reinach Park, a foam of nereids. You could
have changed your name, major, ethnicity,
shed your shoddy teenage dreams, unfamilied
seized freedom in someplace unfamiliar as
the Tronchetto fish market where you turned
away from the place’s twice alien stink.
Though you cleave to them, familiar places
fall away: the schoolyard’s fieldstone wall topped
with slate that held the heat; the basement study
with electric typewriter, mold and must;
the bedroom with the narrow window and
a locust tree outside. Someday, you won’t
recall the lecture hall where you lost then
found your voice. Already you’ve forgotten
the Campo della Carita where you
sipped espresso and stared shamelessly at
that bella ragazza for five minutes straight.
Rejoice. The world is full of someplaces.
We can go then, you and I, go someplace and
get a drink, grab a bite, put up our feet,
feel redeemed, forgiven, free, at home.
Let’s go someplace shiny, someplace storied,
someplace that will change us, a lost place
like Trapananda where we might find fortune
and new selves, someplace mythic like Ciudad
de los Césares, hidden high in the Andes,
some place like misty, fabled Elelín.
Just as long as it’s someplace that isn’t
here, just so long as it’s someplace else.
There’s a mystery in affinity.
Why Petrarch and Laura? Of all the someones
in all the towns in all the world, why
Rick and Ilsa? Were they on the prowl or
just arrow-struck, lucky without looking?
Chemists have their theories, so does Freud.
They’d like to make the inexplicable
look inevitable, unconcerned that what
can be explained may be explained away.
Still, there’s a mystery in affinity.
About affinity there’s always mystery.
Someone whose giggle can light you up, whose
graduation portrait beguiles you,
someone whose faults are more lovable than
their virtues, for whom you’re the number one
priority, who makes music of your name,
asks what you were like at sixteen, a bottomless
being with a bottom that can buckle
your knees and galvanize your heart.
In all affinity there’s mystery.
© 2018 Robert Wexelblatt
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