Here is the thirteenth poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:
he embraced the day
and made love to it
and gradually its beauty
responded to his praise
the moody autumn sky
stripped off its clouds
became a naked blue
its sun teasing his flesh
he cried out
and lightning hurled its tension down
he pushed to his limits
and distant thunder moaned
when the sky wept with relief
the sun became gold and bled
stars sighed in languid twilight
the night whispered
and the moon lit up
While this poem is clearly about sex, it’s also about the creative process, and about the way in which the natural world gives rise to inspiration. Whether it’s an oil painting or a short story, a work of art has to be found and won, recovered from the surrounding reality in which it sometimes appears to be half-buried like a diamond in a mine. Also, taking the metaphor full circle, the poem is about how sex re-unifies our physical and mental selves in a healing way, in terms of well-being and outlook.
I was never very good at the whole casual sex thing. Notwithstanding the prevalence of AIDS back in the nineteen nineties, I have always had a tendency to fall in love at the drop of a hat. Big-hearted you might call it, or a total sap. The girl I wrote this one about , and I hesitate to use this loaded phrase, I encountered in a one night stand. Met her at a party and ended up going home together. I had never seen her before nor set eyes on her again. But we stayed in touch with letters for a while, and I even bought one of her paintings… which I still have somewhere in the attic. I could have scanned it for this blog, but that wouldn’t really have been very discreet of me. You see, letters and paintings? -I didn’t get it, did I? Casual? Fleeting? Moving on? No commitments? People’s bodies have never interested me as much as their souls, and I’ve always found friendship and understanding more appealing as prospects than the mutual discharge of bodily functions.
That said, and it’s not a contradiction, sleeping with a total stranger is a liberating experience, that strips away for a moment all the tedious social glue of human society and reveals us as what we are. I suppose I ought to place a responsible disclaimer after that, like the one I did for drugs recently, but I don’t think young people are going to heed much advice from me on the topic. I’ve written elsewhere about sex being “a healing pantomime for the disturbed” (‘Entanglement’, Chapter 14) by which I mean that what for animals is straightforward, is for human beings: a living metaphor that assumes a dangerous resonance at times far in excess of its actual importance. This is what Freud was on about, the high-flown ideas that we project onto something rather basic. What is that metaphor then that is obsessing us all? It’s interaction of course, the dream of escaping our own skins and joining into union with all the other souls around us. And what can actually deliver that? Words, conversation, music, death perhaps, depending on your beliefs, but certainly not the rather imperfect lingo of coitus.
But desire lures us on. Just one of many shifting veils of horizons that Nature dangles in front of us throughout our lives to get us out of our beds in the morning. These days it’s probably something pretty cut-price for me, like writing a decent book, so Nature must be running out of ideas and out of tricks that work on me!
My choice of image for this one has to be “The Magical Encounter” an oil painting by my brother the neo-surrealist artist Ally Thompson. Not quite painted at the same time, but certainly based on an equivalent experience to the one which inspired my poem above, but I shall content myself with only exposing my own personal life, not anyone else’s, for the purposes of this blog! It’s bright colours and dynamic lines capture brilliantly the moment of exhilaration when we finally break through and make passionate contact with another.