Je me Souviens by Arturo Mantecón

Nuestra luna de miel
and you and I walked
hands and fingers
with your vermilion cape
and cochineal beret,
the grand succulent aphid
of the grey,
imploring rain
and bleeding snows
that you found
and claimed
beneath the streets
and skies
of Montréal...
you striding,
at a curving pace
beat out
by the double prows
of your fluid shoulders...
so complete were you,
so authentic,
so sane and whole,
so incontrovertibly chic
that all the uzbekh cabbies,
shopgirls, concierges,
candy butchers,
quebecois cobblers,
bibbers of red wine,
vendors of viandes fumées,
and ecuadorian hammock makers,
took you
for une belle parisienne
of fine wit
and smartness
of couture...
yes, Madame...
oui, Madame...
would Madame prefer?
does Madame wish?
would Madame like?
...des glaçons?
...des poissons?
...un plat?
...un plat d'agneaux?
...un plat de carpaccio de caribou?
...un plat d'argent?
...parfum de Yves St. Laurent?
...un sprat?
...un coup d'état? >
...bon chat, bon rat...
...un effrayant éclat? >
...un vers de Nelligan?

And we walked and walked
hands and fingers
bergamot in our hair
and intent on nothing
but aesthetics
and gastronomy
on our reconnoitering
breaking our fasts
with cold mornings
and ordinary,
buttered bread,
all the while admiring
the fallen cedars of Lebanon,
the future beams and rafters
for our temples
in which we
would make sacrifice
until fire
would become
our only concern,
and I would be
your guarded flame...
and were you not
so manifestly mine,
the very semaphores
of the broken streets
of the town
would have flattered you
with colored lights
and bowed their steel
to the will of your steps,
and the gallants everywhere
would have shot down
arquebus volleys
of ermine gloves,
cashmere cloaks,
satin slippers,
peacock feathers,
snows of eider down,
confectioner's sugar,
blue bolts of Chinese silk,
and gold and red maple leaves
from the crenulated,
brilliant rooftops
to signal
our careless passing.

And we walked and walked
hands and fingers
like two,
supplicant halves
of prayers
made to disparate gods
made one by love,
and the city
was our gentle fable,
in its drollery
of Canadian physics,
forkèd speech
and shop signs:
"Le Meilleur Chien Chaud en Ville"...
and in the Place d'Armes
the dark wood
and wrought iron
and fine,
blank cotton
seduced us both
until you murmured
and whispered
all praise and longing
for fear of rousing
and bringing to mind
our homely realities,
and we lived there
and lay there...
you in bed
like a fruited trilogy,
three stories told in lime,
berry and mango,
and in the immense bed
a book of Kama,
a sweet sutra
of running chocolate
and breathless peppermint,
and in the bed without end
a philosophical book
concerning a starving
bengal tiger
and a shipwrecked,
telepathic, hindu boy...
a book of relativistic
of magic flotsam
and supernatural jetsam,
a book of the absolute soul
of Brahma in Pondicherry
and Toronto, Ontario...
and through it all
your lips were numbed
and your skin was flayed
and laid open
by the opiates
of your own artifice,
as we consumed
our feast of nights
in the Place d'Armes.

And we walked and walked,
stark and phenomenal,
enlightened and evoked
into our own,
speculative duality
of tongues,
food and skin,
mingled now
like our very names,
like our ascending blood,
like that very
incongruent intricacy,
of our conjugal
fingers and hands.

© Arturo Mantecón, October 2003