IN MEMORIUM: ROBERT DESNOS
J’ai tant revé de toi....
was the line I meant to start with.
Instead, I find my mind alive with other thoughts.
I did not intend to expose your mysterious woman.
Only in your poem do I know her. Only in your poem
in my mind do I come to realise the mystery of her.
No, Robert Desnos. Ours are different women.
This woman of yours — you knew her
though you had not met, though your arms
had not been linked in a walk down any street
& your mouths had not passed the closeness of any night
together. Yet you knew her till your death, & perhaps
met then. For your death was her death, & you were thus
My poem was to be
of a woman who I had met, who I had done with
all those things you had not done. Yet one
who I cannot remember, & who, once forgotten,
Whose body I should remember most,
for her words were confetti
that the wind caught & blew away.
& the smile of her eyes
less than a match struck
to be blown out a second later.
Who in walking with me seemed
no more than the passing of other
people in the same street.
Only later, together in a
room, the pedestrian became not
passerby but participant.
yet the mouth
with my tongue
& the shudder
of her elbows
This the mysterious aspect. Did I ever
make love to her? I tell you, Robert, I
know I did: but when I try remembering
the course of our carnality, it is non-
(Here I would echo your poem,
but shamed by the beauty of your words, I insert
the beginnings of my own)
Inside the mouth
of my memory, your tongue is mayhem. Words
you once spoke have become as gibberish
in my attempt to set them right in time. The rims
of your eyes are as sharp as razors,
but the blue of them is blurred, like sky
behind a seagull’s beating wings…..
© Mark Young