Waves of wild parrots screeched at dawn as common
as Europe’s sparrows will be tomorrow, I thought.
But remember our last night with you in my lap asleep so still
like Christ off the cross held by a sculpted Mater Dolorosa.
The absurdity of the comparison did not escape my notice
even then, you my adulterous lover and I all of fifteen.
It is not clear that we will have another night such as this
I imbibe your sleeping presence through my cells, your breath
precious ether, I see the throb of your fine veins by candlelight
and imagine its music so even unlike my erratic rhythm.
I have already said my adieus to Avila, my mountain protector,
and at the beach stared at the Antillean sea so ink dark,
etching it in memory as I do your sleeping face silhouetted on
the wall across, now imagining the countenance of a fallen warrior.
I have packed and repacked my valises, left open for days
For all to see and argue about contents in the Russian fashion.
My Grandmother surreptitiously puts edibles for the long journey.
She does not imagine I will be properly fed in Paris.
A silent battles ensues between us as would have
I suppose with my mother had she been still alive.
It is always like this I don’t know why we continue to engage…
But her body language as I kiss signals her victory and tired
of this game, I shrug, and run to Maiquetia already late.
At one end of airport terminal stands my father and
at the other in temporary truce, my lover. As if they
had convened and negotiated terms of engagement
as generals did prior to an 18th century battle.
I flit from one to the other wearing each their gifts.
A watch from my father and a discreet ring from him.
The jet for France arrives and I anguish if I should flee again
with my lover to Caracas. But not this time I say.
Paris awaits . He whispers, you will forget me.
I plead that he should know I will not .
I don’t know what to offer as solace in my place.
I think of cutting off my braid and offering it as pledge
But it seems an empty gesture, unseemly.
My father weeps openly, profusely, being a foreigner,
My grief a frozen river swells, not expressed in tears
And you so silent at the end, so restrained.
I waited for your letters and did in Paris what young girls did then
Attend L’Opera, Comedie Francaise, the Louvre, the Jeu de Paume.
Bought boots, glove, scarves, at Hermes in the Faubourg St Honore
as my mother had done, correct as young girls should I’m told
But then I ran away from boarding school stayed up until dawn
at the Gare St Lazaire. I explained to the Consul my dream was
to attend the Sorbonne .I almost ran away again but compromised
settled in what was a pension in Montparnasse,14 Rue de Stanislas.
Met old ladies in cafes that had been models for
Modigliani and Matisse and more recently Soutine.
Foreign painters took over my aesthetic education, became briefly a model,
You stopped writing the letters that nurtured me. I waited in my hotel
day by day for the four-thirty Poste but nothing came in four whole months.
Do you know what an eternity four months is when you’re fifteen?
Then on my birthday you sent a bouquet of yellow roses. Yellow? I asked.
Finally I tired of your silence. met a young writer who as sole prerequisite
had to be as different from you as possible. We lived in free apartments of a countess,
Mme.de Santis and would have to move in a days notice, a lark really.
Then you threatened to come but I fled Paris for Barcelona and then Ibiza
But you managed to find me there and as pretext asked me to translate
an obscure poem you’d lent me. I understood the theme of the poem was
a barely diffuse threat to my new lover. Went back quietly to Paris but there
was not a day or an hour that my thoughts were not with you.
A year passed and I planned my return to Venezuela
to settle various family matters and was myself carrying
a child that should have been yours.
Again in Maiquetia as I glanced at the welcoming crowd
I saw a figure briefly, dressed in sailing whites, and knew it to be you.
I braced myself for our encounter and it came soon enough
that very evening you led me to everyplace we met for our
clandestine trysts and even the very spot where one night
I saw a reflection in your windshield which I mistook for
a constellation of stars to your continual amusement.
You entreated and offered to be a father to the child.
I was not moved. The child had to be taken to the father I said.
It was a simple as law. It was written thus in my code as was
later when I left the father to surrender to him my sons.
Yet I did not return to you then because you thought that I would
not surmount the pain. You were right. I did not. I became what
I am today, someone who has walked through fire and back.
It is late in the day for these cogitations, but here I am still.