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featured poet – Carole Satyamurti (1939-2019)

Carole Satyamurti


Lust in Translation

When the International Language Crimes Tribunal
has considered Collateral damage, Liberate and Friendly Fire
they might turn to Love. Love and the French.
Love and French films in particular – the verve and sanity
they drain from the most important word there is.
It’s the moping and mooning they do, those lovers,
at the traffic, into the mirror and out of it,
the way they’re in love with themselves in love with
themselves… Where is fun, real adversity, ordinary luck?
What about the grit, and the time, the sheer time love takes?
Love may make you smile. It makes them desolate:
je t’aime (glycerine glazing flawless cheeks); je t’aime
(achingly chic cardigan pulled around skeletal shoulders
since, whatever else, ‘love’ ruins appetite) as though
to utter it brings them eyeball to eyeball with le néant.
O love distilled to the mating dance of moths!
They’re children in a chocolate shop, tearing off
the wrappings. Je t’aime, they pant, between mouthfuls;
or even je vous aime since, often, they’ve met so recently
they’re not even on tutoying terms.
In fact they should come clean and go intransitive:
J’aime,they should say, je désire immodérément,
to describe a condition like hayfever or a craving
for celeriac: something seasonal and a yawn, except
to fellow sufferers. Je t’aime – it’s almost a nervous tic
but you’d better believe it, at least a little, because,
otherwise, the whole film collapses like wet meringue.
So you almost manage to put yourself in her place, or in his,
except that what they need, you realise, is animation –
soul, and muscle, and a hell of a lot more speed;
and ‘what was all that about?’ we say, as we stumble
out of one more ill-spent evening. ‘Love’. Of course.
But surely we missed some irony, a hint of the sublime –
we who won’t recall this story of ‘love’ from a dozen others;
we who don’t know the meaning of the word, apparently.

Carole Satyamurti

in collection Stitching the Dark – New & Selected Poems, 2005, Bloodaxe Books,
ISBN 978-1-8522469-2-1