from Venus Velvet No. 2
by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

copyright © 2010 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

How could I turn and say: but this is him.
How could I say: he bounded when he walked.
How could I say: when he came home at night,
A gust of snowy air around his coat,
I drew him closer, holding his lapels;
He caught me by the wrists and closed his eyes.

How could I say I tried to memorize
The truthful face, his smile a truthful blaze
Untrammeled still. I tried to learn by heart
The light-brown gaze: unguarded chrysolite
From such another world that heaven made.
Left iris, with a comet-fleck of gold.
How could I memorize his gentle ways.
The way he mingled friendliness with passion,
Plain dealing, open-handed, unafraid.
The swift, reflexive generosity.

His striking conversation, magic ease
In seeking what the other could, then more,
In understanding, warmly understood;
A quest for truth but not certainty.

And the integrity I idolized:
Another’s mystery never trifled with.
No one was belittled in those eyes.

Nothing denied, held back, or kept apart.
And never lost his gentle ways with me.
And wanted power over no one else,
But master of his heart, and of himself,
A mind that never darkened, mastermind,
Fountain of pulsing energy at play,
Unshackled, unentangled, unconfined.

Beneath the reading light, his pillowed head
A crimson-outlined silhouette at night,
His profile marble-carved, noble, sun-warmed,
Even at night, in winter, ruddy-tinged.
Red-gold of Titian’s pigment-laden brush.

The red-lit aureate curving of his ear,
Warm-blooded velvet, made for lips to find.
I kissed his brow good night and felt the touch
Of lashes brush my chin before they closed.
Untroubled love. Unmarred. And quiet sleep,

His head a silken weight against my chest,
Velvet inner elbow, dangled foot,
Voluptuous surrender, unarmed Mars,
Even in sleep, composed. Even in sleep
Possessive of my hand. Still self-possessed.

Never again our idyll-nights of peace,
Never again to have him to myself.