by William Levy
American poet living in Amsterdam
No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard,
Or keeps the end from being hard.
“Provide Provide” – Robert Frost
With the enormous effort to keep breathing through my emphysema and being on the toilet half a dozen times a day, that leaves little time, inclination, or appetite, for sexual activities. Having just endured my 78th birthday it reminds of a time two decades ago when Tore Hakansson – autobiographer of My First Ninety Years – and I translated a poem by the renowned Finnish author Eeva Kilpi.
A Song of Elderly Love
And on a nice day
We crawl together you and I,
A lock snaps and we never again come apart
Your worn-out joints caught in my gout
My ulcer close to your heart failure
And rheumatism with your backache —
Never shall we part, oh us.
And my dear you forget your breathlessness
And the coronary you already had
And I forgot my catarrh, my restless legs
And the ache in my left side that never stops –
Now we ignore sorrow and heaviness and need.
My breasts so empty and flat
Hold on them, my dear
for one day when you see them hanging
Do you love me then?
Tula, tulam tuli tuli toj?
Lord, teach us to accept the old one’s love
the young one’s love, the middle-aged love
the love of the ugly ones, the love of the
fat ones, the love of the poor.
the love of the badly dressed
and the love of the lonely.
Teach us to accept love
We are so afraid of it.
And you take my breasts in your hands
my hanging flat breasts
and touch with your lips the crinkled nipples
and with cataracts in the eyes waiting for a hospital bed
you groping blindly after me,
feeling with you hands.
Go on feeling,
under all these crinkles am I,
This crumpled dress was placed on us by life in the end
you, my wild strawberry, my swallow,
my flower so fair.
And my swollen joints rest in your hollows,
Your wrinkles in my furrows
And close to you in your pain
I pray silently for your death
And light is our evening and our morning.
It comes down to this. I take these pills, prednison – a kind of steroid, which seem to keep me from passing. In turn they make me fat, almost explode my swollen feet. But most annoying my bowels have gone independent. Erectile disfunction is low down on my list of problems, even though a couple of women have asked to come by, and do – who knows what. These days a big O might be the end. My end. When the doctor asked how he could help I told him “dancing girls.” He blushed. I guess I had expected a more comfortable dotage, something more than lusts like a post-modern novel without any definite conclusion. Erections are difficult, mostly impossible. Yet massaging my scrotum and kissing a passion play almost as good as penetration. Every season of life reveals a beauty all its own
Getting to Know You
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair –
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”- T.S. Eliot
Come in the wind
Dripping tears over
Doing with our fingers what we
with our mouths
using serpent tongues
the challenge of
But by then I was confused
What to do with this feeling
that won’t get me hurt?
I put my finger
Squeezed it hard saying
Do you like it?
Are you approving?
All men do.”
“It’s very good
That Don Giovanni
Is being cherished
“I read Red and Black
all that summer
there was much rain.”
“You are cuuroptink me
Is this rok ‘n’ rool?”
Then sexed me with the same
neatness and accuracy
as you carry out
curious historical research.
come glistens on my stomach like a
sprig of mistletoe
in a water bucket
Wiped away with a
not held as a hostage
past to the future.