by Wanda Waterman
I was walking in the jasmine garden
And I thought of you—
How in the summer, when you were across the sea,
I could feel your desire sway me with the power
Of a serpent,
Reigning even over my blood.
Tonight, while the cool moon stands at my window,
I will find your love letters
And spill them on my cot,
Steeping myself in the lushness of your longing.
You are not here
That I might smile for you,
That you might touch the skin that I soften
With olive oil;
Your scrawled syllables must do.
I feel like an aged, forsaken spinster,
Foolishly guarding the relics of lovers past;
Yet my youth is still within me.
When I walk through the marketplace
The eyes of the men become fixed upon me
And cannot be moved.
And I am afraid.
When I see you again, my love,
I will turn my eyes away
And there will be no need to speak.
I long for you to stand before me again,
In the spring—
When the dew-weighted jasmine blossoms
Bend their scented faces together.
~First published in Descant, 1979