There has been no change
but I am no longer young.
Autumn wind blows and
I am disturbed as before.
- Princess Shikishi
All That Summer
All that summer I read German novels
and wrote letters that were never sent,
drank tea in cafes he had not discovered.
Somewhere on George Street, my Steppenwolf
lost its cover; I wept all afternoon
and most of the evening. I tried quoting Hesse
to a German tourist in Martin's Bar:
every created thing, even the simplest,
is already guilty, already multiple.
But he told me his English was not so good,
and in any case, he was an engineer.
December drove me mad. On alternate Sundays
I went to Mass, armed with an elderly bible.
When no-one was looking, I stole the candles.
All that summer I waged war against mosquitoes.
Once, he rang, and I invented a lover -
relieved, he told me about his. One lonely night
I crawled in through her bathroom window:
it's her or me, I said to him, and he chose her.
It was difficult to make a dignified retreat.
That summer I dyed my hair red
And ate nothing but maps of foreign cities,
covered Steppenwolf in pages ripped from Rilke.
That summer, I began to crave obscure Japanese poets.
One night, I dreamt Shikishi came to me.
"Autumn wind blows," she said,
And I am disturbed as before."
- mine, from The Long Drowning. And it isn't autobiographical!