by Jaime Gil de Biedma
What good is it, I wonder, to move up floors,
To leave behind the basement, darker than
My reputation – which says it all –
To hang white lace curtains
And to take on a maid,
To renounce my bohemian ways,
If you’re to come then, you, bore,
You, embarrassing guest, a fool dressed in my garb,
A useless drone, a disgrace,
With your clean washed hands,
To gobble up from my plate and leave a mess?
Barging in with bar drunks in tow,
A bunch of rentboys and flower girls,
The dead streets at dawn,
And yellow-lit elevators,
As you arrive, all boozed up,
And pause to confront yourself in the mirror,
The ravaged face,
The eyes, still ablaze with violence,
That you wish not shut. And dare I tell you off,
You’ll laugh me off, remind me of the past
And tell me I’ve grown older.
I could remind you that you’re no longer funny,
And that your carefree, nonchalant ease
Is actually sickening
In a thirty-something,
And that your charming,
Drowsy, boyish smile –
A winning smile at that – is but a sorry wreck,
Such a pathetic try.
When all the while you probe me with your
Waifish eyes, and cry,
And promise you will not.
If only you weren’t such a slut!
And had I only known, time back,
That you are strong when I am weak,
And you are weak when I am boiling mad…
Of your comebacks, I have a blurry feeling
Of panic, pity and regret,
And the utter despondence,
Impatience and resentment
Of suffering again, and yet again,
The unforgivable humiliation
Of too much intimacy.
At pains, I will take to your bed,
As though descending to hell,
To then drift off and fall asleep by your side.
Dying of helplessness at every step,
Stumbling on furniture,
We will grope our way through my place,
Locked in an awkward embrace, wobbly
With liquor and muffled sobs.
Oh, ignoble servitude of loving human beings,
And the most ignoble of all –
To love oneself!
Last updated November 29, 2022