“Invention of the Bridegroom” and “Harem Song”

Invention of the Bridegroom

Wait by the rocks and take up your knitting.
Let your smell waft out of that briny tang—
just give it time, little siren, patience.
Wait by the rocks long enough, and he will show.
First he’ll blindfold you; then he’ll slip the gag
into your mouth: all there’s left to do is lie
down on your side till he gets the binds tight.
After all, his hands know what they need,
they can find it even in the far darkness where you are.
What a childhood of wasps taught him this…
For a moment, he almost looks happy.
But already, like a moon slipping over
the horizon, the end arrives. Then his cry:
bleak and lonely, a lost boat’s foghorn bleating.

Harem Song
Blue crocuses cincture the snake’s hole
Monkeys in the palms gibber, wild.

By midnight we’ll be drunk or high
When he arrives with the smile

Of a man who’s just gotten away with murder.
White peacocks shake their tails and strut.

Say Effendi, say Pearl-of-the-Pure-of-Heart if he chooses you
Or just open your mouth, as though in surprise.

White peacock panics in the tall ferns, the reeds.
If he can’t get it up, he’ll fall

Asleep in your lap as though it were history.
Listen: that’s the oud player tuning up.

I don’t want to tell you how to do this,
But you might think about a little kohl,

A few jewels. You might take a look
At whatever’s happening with your bust.

The ould player coughs when our lord can’t get it up,
Ivy in the pool comes apart.

Somewhere a mutiny is tearing loose from
Its tree like ripe fruit;

But as for now, little boarder, orphan, we’re here in this pavilion
Briefly, this gallery-deep and portholed

Place called Earth and you must row your bit,
Sister: see how lovely you are in the mirror.

You must consider: it was the Will. Your beauty. It was the shiny

Made a garden of Eden in your veins and paradise
Of your soft sigh.