mathematics arose from the awakening of the human soul
where am I?
the work holds out a mirror
a diabolical, a magic square
the “repercussions of an enigma”
counting the narratives or courting desire
a space is opened
a body composed of arched vaults, of columns and galleries
lined by Ishtar’s lions
holding my breath won’t do
each summation a replication of the last
like Amytas’ garden
hopscotch performed as an equation
ameliorates doubt (persia’s
allure, an incontrovertible
a coda of strewn flowers
the exact number of terraces and roofs, matter and limitation
undone by fire
Berosus’ astronomy (another
an insignificant aberration
less precise than sigma and more illusive
the same stars in the same night sky
I inhabit the margin
a world, itself already fiction
she is wrought in jewels also
a door opening two ways
an infinite regress
his tongue fails to picture her beauty
a jeweled box
a fabric of texts
cup of possibility
perfect in beauty
desire borne along a
a fictional skein
the shape death acquires
A language game: Report whether a certain body is lighter or darker than another.
Or more freighted by sin
She was always so
A narrative of garden, idyll beneath a tree
You wait for her there
Though she refuses delimitation, departure a confusing disarray
She allowed the kiss
Knew innately the secret codes
A simple cutting away of extremity
And sought his death
In the vocabulary of love
Who was she after all
The gardener sold him apples – a betrayal – for which, alas, she had already lost her taste
Circuit of despair
He is wounded
Her fever lapses, a matter of irrational order
Object of desire
She no longer yearns for him
When you return the apples are reduced to two, another fevered kiss
She cannot be relied on
An order of servitude in which she must occupy the least rung
She cuckolds him
An invented narrative
Keeping the complicity of the black slave in mind
Of narrative and desire
She is murdered
Like the apples, there is more to the tree than is implied
Is there room in the narrative for the catalog of pieces into which she is carved
To whose garden do we refer
Her knowledge of love yet another conceit
Hidden in a tree, brothers and kings they descend to make love to the girl
They can hardly be blamed
The apple of his eye and an inexplicable absence
What is it the djinn guards
She was “beautiful”
Her body a cipher of proliferating, incomprehensible signs
Hacked to pieces
Reaching always, inevitably, toward something else
Your sighs understandable
She is cast into the Tigris
Both young and beautiful
The enigma linking narrative and death
A woman or a slave or both
What of the apple
Progressing from deceit to knowledge
The number of slaves proliferates
Though unseen and like light, the flesh of the apple is white
In your hand, a bloodied knife
A sequence of thefts or disfigurements :: slave-wife amputating his thumbs, his great toes. His forfeit cock
A glimmering sign suspended in the gap measuring the distance between language and death :: cascade of preferments, punishment
Possessing both object and purpose, an “unreasonable effectiveness”
She desires the slave and beds him
A profligate and a sister-killer
Difference poses itself between “sense” and “non-sense”
A neat bisection
Transgressive taste for black men, for the Ethiopian tongue
Simultaneously master and slave
An object of exchange
A function of curving space, unbound
A sword, a serpent, a vulture. Wolf, cock, finally a whale. Fire. His bewilderment. A knife engraved with Hebrew words
Or an aleph
The old woman instructs him in the rites of purification
A coterie of pleasures or wiles “you must know”, though her knowledge composed entirely of mischief
An aberrant form
Body of the beloved, breast of the wet-nurse
Desire mapped against power :: a girl, black eyes and black hair, “rubied lips”. She reduces him to slavery
The deflection of narrative-structure
A recitation of verses, eroticism’s throbbing violence
She renders him powerless
A tearful girl, a lure, an ogress :: parable of the sultan’s “ugly little fellow”
An accident or image of death
An agent of injury
Of coloured fish and mountains, the number 4, “nothing much”
Herself a talking knot
A subset of topological space, of convergences and continuity
A mouth pressed to ground
A pair of black bitches and a beautiful wife, the loss of his hands or his feet
He is wounded
She, the boundary or limit against which he cannot escape
“a circular form of speech”
A theorem of incompleteness or conjecture :: she assigns her wealth to her husband and wastes away
At the feet of the king, her body “less and worse than nothing”.
She incites his desire.
Blue walls of the bedchamber a border of the chronicle she narrates.
He takes her to bed.
In response to such bluntness, we must enter by force of imagination. The site of desire.
Amber and cinnabar rugs pillow the floor.
Wine poured from a silver ewer.
The hunt, a prayer, a garden, threaded texts of a loom lining the room.
We become dizzy with delight. What was she saying?
Master and slave abandon their accustomed roles, one finger tracing the circumference of his eyes, his lips, the curve of an ear.
He lies back into silk, unresisting, pleasure subsuming itself.
She kisses his ear, the heat of her tongue whispering perilous delight. He cannot move.
Like a muezzin’s blessings, her hennaed nails prick his erect flesh, woman and scheming inseparable. What will she awake?
The narratives bend upon themselves, refusing closure.
“A cup of wine, oh beloved?” He cannot answer, grief and desire stuff his mouth.
She dips her fingers into the cup, tipping each in gleaming carmine light, falling like rain upon his mouth.
“I shall tell you a story”, and still he does not or cannot speak.
A tailor, a hunchback, a bite of fish, a cunning wife. Displacing the traumatic thing, night jasmine enters through an open window. He cannot control the foci of his attention.
Still he is caught, narrative and desire a folded obligation. Death maps the night, only dawn recalling inevitability.
He trembles as her mouth closes upon his sex.
Another code, dawn, rescinds the license of the night. His bed, a temporary reprieve.
If he must have her, what will she do with him?
A jew, a muslim, a christian, a king. The possibilities apparently endless. The 13 versions, each verse more fantastic than the last.
Language nourishes a lack for which it is the only recourse.