[Trying to see the proportional relation]

By Ariana Reines Ariana Reines
Trying to see the proportional relation
Of one memory to another
One is so strange, and then
To try and see what looms
And doesn’t for the other person
Who was there, it gets stranger,
Especially when you’ve read
His email.
I don’t know how people
Understand their lives, measure
Their sensations against “objective”
Or so-to-speak democratic estimations,
Whether people accept the externality
Of events, “events,” as things
That happen to them. I refuse
To accept some coagulate
Of other people’s
Impressions in exchange for this
Privacy, no matter how flawed it is.
This is lyric poetry. It has to be. It has
No other hope. What was it
About you and me that made whatever
Happen to us. In New York
Everything fell apart. What I dreaded
And expected.
But still. Tonight
It is dark and the weather is cooler
Than it’s been. It has taken
A while for Fall to break; the global
Warming kept me in summer
Love with you like I was under a
Fermata. Now that the times
Are changing, I feel
Even more for you; or I feel nothing.
I can’t tell; it’s kind
Of scary. I was sick of thinking
About you this morning but
I was listening to Bob Dylan and Leonard
Cohen in order to think about
You for literary purposes.
When I feel nothing for a person
I get scared I’m losing my humanity
And that turning cold means
My heart’s been botoxed: we’re
All fucked.
I watched a movie on YouTube
Called Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister
Leonard Cohen that was made when
He was still just a poet and only
Famous in Canada.
He’s a pretentious little nerd
In it, self-important, teacher’s pet wit.
I think that, making music, he became
So much nakeder, much more desperate.
The talent, real, even pure, even
Natural, had to ripen in
The artificial man.
Alain Badiou, on the day
Of his class, said, “Because an event
Is pure rapture, an event disappears
Immediately: it does not exist
Objectively, but only by appearing
And disappearing.” This is both
Precise and vague; it is attractive
I guess. I guess since you and me did not
Disappear immediately, it was
Not pure rapture, not in these
Terms, but my smile
Was real each time I swallowed
Your cum. Getting
Fucked by you was great; I could
Feel it in my organs, but
You didn’t make me go insane
Except for maybe once
Or twice. Actually maybe I am
Being unfair. Maybe the fucking really
Was that great. In this moment I
Can’t remember.
I just read a poetry
Review in which the reviewer
States that a certain book
Made his cock feel as though
It were tall as a tree. That’s
Nice. I have no idea
What it feels like to have
A cock. Sometimes I feel
As though I’m getting close
To understanding and then
Something happens to make
Me have no clue again. When Sinan
Fucks me, we lose our individuality
So severely it’s like we’re both
Gasping after an animal that’s his
Cock that is beyond us and I lose
All sense of the world. His cock’s
Not even him, and he’s not him either
And we aren’t anything.
It’s strange, the possessive. Didn’t Thomas
Mann write a book called Herr
Und Hund or something like that?
Man’s best friend. What belongs
To him. Me and Sunder
Talked about how scary and arousing
It is to watch men masturbate, cos
Everyone relates differently to his.
Like dicks are always almost but never
Quite another. Je est un autre,
Said that brat Arthur Rimbaud.
I am definitely in love with you
As I write this. You are so petty
And superfluous I cannot stand
You. Sinan is definitely
In love with me. I know, because
I saw him tonight. I love
Him too. You are gracious
To accord me the space and time
In which to develop, or to elaborate
Upon, as the French say, these
Extreme emotions I am, despite
The odds and certain lapses,
So capable of feeling.
It was good to slap
Your face and to admit
That your asshole
Made me nervous.
Your eyes had a way
Of going soft and shiny
When you said the really
Tender things. We admitted
It was intimidating
For us both to hear each other describe
People we’ve fucked and been
In love with. I’m proud of what
We accomplished together. Alain Badiou
Ended his class with a reading
Of “Ariane et Barbe-Bleue” which
Is an opera by Paul Dukas. You
And me had gone pretty far
By the time this day came, and
Something very fragile in me breaks
When somebody says my name, or
Even a variant of it. I was tired.
I think Badiou discusses “Ariane”
In Being and Event which
I have not read. In class he said
That the story of the opera is
About the relationship between law
And freedom, and that it shows
That the desire for freedom is not
So simple. Ariane experiences an Event
That causes her to demand freedom, Badiou
Said, but she is unable to convince anybody
Else, any other women to want freedom; she ends up alone.
She genuinely falls in love with the wicked
Bluebeard at the beginning. Bluebeard
Who previously got women by having a castle
To lock them in. This woman Ariane
Does not have to be taken
By force. When she enters
His castle he hands
Her seven keys, six
Of which he gives her permission
To use, and leaves. She hears the cries
Of his other, imprisoned wives,
Coming from behind a door. So she uses
The forbidden key, releasing them.
Meanwhile Bluebeard is assaulted
By the local peasants, who want
To free Ariane, fearing her fate will turn out like
That of the women who came before her.
But Ariane is already free
In herself, and proves this freedom
By bringing the wounded Bluebeard
Home, caring tenderly for him, and then
Declaring that she’s leaving him for good.
By the end Bluebeard’s shattered, sobbing,
Bleeding. Ariane
Invites the other wives to leave with her
In a wrenching aria, pleading
With them one by one to taste
With her the freedom awaiting
Them, The World. But they all prefer confinement
Even though they had longed
For freedom before Ariane opened
Their door. Once liberty arrived they were no
Longer capable of it, preferring to serve; even a gutted,
Hollowed-out power. Ariane exits
Alone. The end. Badiou narrated
This with emotion and
I cried. Maybe cos I was tired and
That thing about my name or because
I am not heroic or free.
I had missed half of Alain Badiou’s
Lectures messing around with you
On the couch by the fire; in the women’s
Toilets; up on the hill. If this were a suitable parable,
And it isn’t, I would try to tell myself
That those very early mornings in Brooklyn when I sat
Up in your bed feeling wrong and
Got dressed and walked away, I should
Have stayed away cos I don’t need you.
Maybe I don’t need you. But I want
You. Maybe I don’t love you. But
I am getting to know you. Maybe
What made me cry in class was how tired
I was and how sad and hard
It is, and how rare, to undertake an act
That’s truly free, and not just a response
To a confused surge of drives and  fears.

Ariana Reines, “[Trying to see the proportional relation]” from Coeur De Lion, published by Fence Books. Copyright © 2007 by Ariana Reines. Reprinted by permission of Ariana Reines.

Source: Coeur de Lion (Fence Books, 2007)

 Ariana  Reines

Biography

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, poet, playwright, and translator Ariana Reines earned a BA from Barnard College, and completed graduate work at both Columbia University and the European Graduate School, where she studied literature, performance, and philosophy. Her books of poetry include The Cow (2006), which won the Alberta Prize from Fence Books; Coeur de Lion (2007); and Mercury (2011). Her poems have been anthologized in . . .

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