arguing with the troubadour

Oh no, you are singing again, toting
your coat of mail, your lyre,
and expecting me to swoon.  let me say that

this transaction of bodies
and sepulchers, this business of
trading temples if bodies be known as such
is too courtly.  it is a lost vernacular,
a spousal lie as night by night
the windows and gardens become
the stuff of sonnets, the boot tips of
my century-old soldier brushing
the dead nightingales to the edge
of the lawn, making room, singing all the while.

the laments from the shrubbery
are nothing close to birdsong.
there are remnants of brown blood
on your pointed leather toe.
a caw and a coo.  this will not do:
turrets and romance between us?
your infantile strumming?
that castrati song of yours i listen to
while trying not to split my sides?

Let down your hair! you scream.
not this again.  it seems you long
for communion via me, thinking
your sentiments and horrid plucking--
these cliches--
will coax me down.  i yawn.
from the distance you can discern
no movement, no expression: i might be sighing
or pressing you into my heart like a petal
for all you know, the drippy sap
of convention appeased, a small lilt
in your voice: the lover's plea.

a birdsong?  a lovesong?
the nightingales are dead, littering the lawn.
the path is scuffed by all those who've come before.
i am a giant suspended above ground,
observing your supplications though
let us be truthful: i lack the breasts to be
Rapunzel and you, sir, are certainly no troubadour.

the songs can come.  i can always tune them out;
i can leave my post at the window and go back
to the bed from which your calls first roused me,
pull the pillow over my ears.  
the songs are fine, just keep the bodies at a distance
and the nightingales' husks out of sight.
tonight i may be yours but tomorrow
some other will invent new ways by which to woo me,
to incite song within this chest of mine,
urge me to descend willingly to level ground.
there are reverberations within the hollowed stone walls
which contain me--this tower--and the only chance
for consummation lies on the air outside
upon which the seductions float, pleading, my skein of hair...

please sir, inform the others
of this one small necessity: if we love--
body for body, however fleetingly--
we must each prepare new forms, new songs
so love might still shake the stones
from any and all towers.
tell the lovers they need no longer heed
the coming of morning for, when it does come,
they will be quite prepared,  they will be modern
about that dreary, hackneyed aubade.

2002 kris t. kahn.  All rights reserved. 


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