HELOISE TO ABELARD IN THE VESTRY (May 19, 1115)
“And if the name of wife appears more sacred and more valid, sweeter to me is ever the word friend, or, if you be not ashamed, concubine or whore.” Heloise
Read your planctus, brother, so I can log it in my niche. Make soft the marble floor on which the spirit springs, then sing to the friars who lie in the garden outside: “I’m besotted with an angel who reads both Latin and Greek.” Exegete the dark of my circumference on the altar’s slab where you drink and eat, then forgive me if you can. Hold forth in your pulpit, darling, then preach your Sic et Non all night. Cross yourself with nothing on as you repeat: This is my body, love, take, write, conceive our little Astrolabe.
ABELARD TO HELOISE (July 15, 1115)
You swam like a snake with your head upraised. I cut a wake inside your wake until you stopped and stood in the muck. I held you in a tight embrace as if you’d break on letting go. I saw the sky for what it was: immaculate field, burial ground. A voice cried out from across the lake: “Abelard! Heloise!”—your uncle Fulbert calling us to return “right now!” A thousand minnows circled our legs like shiny badges. I couldn’t speak as I gazed at you too deep in bliss to utter a word, too damn ecstatic. We swam ashore and dressed in vain.
HELOISE TO ABELARD (September 21, 1115)
You woke me to a dream of waking in which I approached you and sang your name. When I listened again I heard the song of you as me in the sound of your name, as if I were saying it with a voice in my head that you could also hear and I was listening for us both, or you were, although it didn’t matter which since the song rose between us as we stood in a meadow, both separate and together, fully involved in musical flames that accompanied our voices in crimson robes with holes at their center that were also our mouths.
ABELARD TO HELOISE (September, 27, 1115)
We were getting ready for bed when suddenly a horse called out from the upper field. “It’s Estaban,” you said. “I can tell by his voice.” You ran outside with an open palm, which lured him down, then mounted him in a single leap, pressing your knees against his sides, clenching his mane as you galloped past.“ Do you see?” you cried. “Do you hear?” A breeze blew through the universe and then the grass. Everything was blowing, the sky, the leaves, your hair. I took down your dress from the laundry line and held it to my face; smelled the flames inside the lace; took off my clothes and put on your dress as a new garment that gave me strength. I saw that acts were the same as thoughts. I saw “unseen things” in my dreams. You made a joke of “no and yes” by singing it to Estaban to the tune of a nursery rhyme. You made me hard beneath your dress.
- Four Poems - December 3, 2021
- From “After Talk” - February 18, 2020