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Winter 1998, Volume 15.1



Saleem Peeradina

Saleem Peeradina (M.A., Wake Forest U) is Associate Professor of English at Siena Heights College. His publications include two books of poetry,
First Offence (1980) and Group Portrait (Oxford, 1992). He has one forthcoming collection of poems, Meditations on Desire, as well as a prose memoir, A Distant Country.


Meditations on Desire

Poet's Note: Meditations on Desire takes its cue from the tradition of classical and medieval devotional poetry in India, blends enroute with Urdu romantic lyrics, and finds a kindred voice in Roland Barthes, especially A Lover's Discourse.


Only in the abstract
can words attain
such luminosity.
On contact with the flesh
they burn up.


To my agitation
you owe
no kindness
since you are
my invention.


I teach myself to want
nothing, to live
on that ascetic edge
where desire, firmly
under my will,
is perpetual.


Why give in
to the ease
of possession, the comfort
of having you
on call? You were cut out
for a higher purpose.


Even as our worlds bump
and move apart
straddling separate orbits,
our shadows draw close
in a blur.


While our vessels wait
—banners flying—
showing no recognition
of the oceans traversed
to get here,
our anchors commune
in the dark.


So obvious, so evident
is this desire, putting it
into words
is an affront
to its honesty. Insist on
unraveling nakedness
and you succeed
only in covering it
with shame.


Inviting your finger
to the scar
is an offer
of hospitality
to visit my past. This ritual
is designed to underline
the homeliness of my flaws,
not a signal for you
to lick my wound.


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