To desire is to build an assemblage,
constructing a region, really, to assemble.
– Gilles Deleuze
I wanted spell bottles instead of pill bottles.
I wanted bird hotels
instead of suburban little boxes.
I wanted to put out my hands
knowing that you’d come to me,
that you would be the first to call.
I wanted your clocks to stop
your calendar to shred
your wall to make space for my picture.
I wanted to be
perfume sprayed over your back
a rhythm you might dance to
that would not need to die
any sooner than our bodies.
I assemble an archive
of Prosecco and dark chocolate
of massages and polka dances
of hagiographies and flutes and rosaries
of bacon-wrapped dates and waterfalls
of berries and bare feet entwined
of St. Cecilia medals
and medieval maps
with the earth at their center
of kayaks and suns and
I assemble a catalogue
that sits on a shelf
nailed to the wall above my bed.
When I move, I won’t
take it with me
nor will I send it to you
and the people
who move in next
will probably throw it away.
Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell
No being can contain the blaze that shoots up when a Christmas tree falls on its Candlemas pyre. Anaïs Nin, protean, gorgeous liar, relentless explorer, exploiter, exploited. Psychoanalyst who bedded her patients, bigamist with a one-man-per-coast policy, flame of spirit too much for one body. Anaïs, who left behind pain and love as twin children, who died alone but surrounded, who unveiled so many ways to be a woman, identities not held by her six given names. You cannot reach unity and integration without patiently experiencing first all of the turns of the labyrinth of falsities and delusions in which man has lost himself. Her lies were moves in a dance, twists and spins between partners, the tango’s dominant stance, the mambo and merengue’s sensuous play, the beauty of her bending. How many sets of hands she clasped, how many pairs of eyes, each man knowing he mattered as much as if he were the only one, each woman delighting in shared beauty. Introspection is a devouring monster. You have to feed it with much material, much experience, many people, many places, many loves, many creations, and then it comes feeding on you. Lies were expansions to give all she could, reserving some spirit for self and others, a magician pulling endless scarves from her hat, filling huge rooms with carnival streamers, banquets with endless steaming plates.
Back and forth on a terrible swing. I’m scared
of stopping. I’m scared of flying too high and jumping
off. An Icarus dilemma, or a Rapunzel one? I’m trapped
in a room. Someone said that if I could just step outside,
I’d finally see the whole house. Hope is the last thing
left in the box. If I give it up, what do I gain?
No guarantees. You gave me my first kiss. It was yours too.
You lifted me on your shoulders for a dance. We both laughed
when you dropped me. Many nights you held me…until you decided
you wanted the bed to yourself. Today, years later, you tap my
shoulder in a half-crowded room. I’m surrounded by old friends, ghosts
of those I knew. I turn. You look at me. “Didn’t you think I’d be here?”
you ask. Water into steam, carbon into land. We’ve both
changed our shape. This is what lets us meet again.
Jeannine M. Pitas is a teacher, writer, and Spanish-English translator. Her first book of poetry, Things Seen and Unseen, was published by Mosaic Press in 2019. Her most recently published translations are of Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio’s Carnation and Tenebrae Candle (Cardboard House Press 2020) and Selva Casal’s We Do Not Live in Vain (Veliz Books 2020). Her translation of Uruguayan poet Silvia Guerra’s Un mar en madrugada (A Sea at Dawn), co-translated with Jesse Lee Kercheval, is forthcoming from Eulalia Books. She lives in Pittsburgh and will join the English faculty at St Vincent College in Fall 2022.