Desire in Three Vignettes

by Aparna Nandakumar

In a three-part poem, Aparna Nandakumar writes about a desire’s premise, about leaving a desire unrequited, finally pointing out how in the face of intense physical desire such arguments do not hold water.

He was peeling potatoes in my kitchen
with the composure of a king.
The dark blue sweater sighed in defeat
and clung to his shoulder-blades.
My fingers itched to trace
a gossamer web on his wingless spine.

The most blessed love is unrequited love.
Unsaid, unkissed, it lingers within the throbbing pulse,
rarefied to its purest abstract form
(like a peg of Jim Beam undiluted by water or coke).
Even the beloved cannot dim its brilliance.
Like a silken scarf tied to a dancer’s wrist,
waving and weaving through the desert sand,
lost in a music not of its making.
And, flesh! How much better it is to slowly simmer,
enfevered by the slightest curl of his smoke-stained lips
or enmazed in the topography of that one fingertip-shaped spot
between his moustache and the corner of his mouth,
than to count blood-moon days, fumble with latex,
and to imprison passion in a few muscle spasms
in the interval between dishwashing and the afternoon nap.

“Love is the experience, not the possession,”
I mouth. That boy leans back,
slumped against the chair, and in a lightning burst of clarity,
I sense from shoulder to elbow to tapering fingers
the crooked line of his arm under all the Park Avenue glory,
resting on his denim-clad thigh. I burn and burn
for that boy who said “no”. No firelight ensues
to illuminate the world; the glow stays within.

Aparna Nandakumar lives in Calicut, India, and writes stories and poems. Her work has been published in several online and print journals, including Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Atticus Review, Cafe Dissensus, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Red River Review, and is forthcoming in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine (University of Chester).
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