(aubade on a picture of spontaneous combustion)
When my lover returnsto his wife, his suburban apartment, the comfortof a seasoned bed bearinghis beautiful weight
I say nothing.I do not nod nor sigh nor breathe the lightstarting to bleed into the roomthe colour of saints
being martyred in portraits.I walk the gallery of his absence, a tourist onlyto this surfeit of space,the erasure of lines
that is his gift to me.It is enough, I think, to watch over the wideterritory of his need, to guardthe frontiers of desire
with my body and silence.It is enough. And so I do not stir,even when the flames bloomfresh petals
from my unbrushed hair,pursed eyelids. I disappearinto photographic retreat,chemical shadow. So
when my lover returnsI am already the ash he wonders atand brushes gently awayfrom the hood of his car.
by Alvin Pang
'The Burning Room (aubade on a picture of spontaneous combustion)' is copyright © Alvin Pang, 2012. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from When the Barbarians Arrive (Arc Publications 2012).
Notes from Arc Publications:
Alvin Pang (b. 1972, Singapore) is a poet, writer,
editor, anthologist, and translator. His poetry has been translated into
over fifteen languages, and he has appeared in major festivals and
anthologies worldwide. When the Barbarians Arrive is a
collection of new and selected works, with some poems taken from Alvin
Pang's previous three collections. You can hear Alvin Pang reading from
another one of his poems here and watch him on the Arc website here, where you can also read more of his work.
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