About a Lover from Tunisia

I kissed her on her buttocks
without the slightest shame
her name ______ in Arabic means “a river in paradise”

should I drown
flowers will grow from her gates

truths are just abstract flowers

*

I have to stop thinking about a dead affair
about a lover from Tunisia and her buttocks
and her tears or that buttocks might have
the shape of tears

I have to stop
I have to forget about Fridays
I have to write my story

I have to forget about the prospects
of laughter with anyone but myself
of alcohol cut with a knife from the moon’s belly

I have to forget about an Arab girl’s
foot following the circular motion of wine she held
and kissing her dark lips in March on the third night of Pesach
the first I celebrated in twenty years

*

There is a girl who I love and who is
from the village of Sidi Bouzid near the Jbala mountains of Regueb
where boys toil in the sun singing

“C’est normal ici” their epic poem
on their motorcycles smuggling gasoline from Libya
to sell for a profit on the sidewalks

but she has not seen this reality
having moved from the country to the city as a child
her father wanted her to be good in school so he built a house next to the school

there is a girl I love and her skin is dark
and her hair is dark and falls on her cheeks
which are capable of turning red through her brown

there is a girl I love and I have kissed
her in many parts of Tunisia
in Bizerte by the sea in the countryside

in the ruins of Utique and the amusement parks of Carthage
But I have made love to her at only one location
next to a lake by the mosque near La Marsa

where the African birds and a river go to pray
when the sun nestles like a bird in the Atlas mountains
visible from ______’s balcony

the call to prayer called Salat is my cue to kiss her and undress her
I am proud to have found a girl who lets me
undress her and not one who undresses herself as routine

on the first call to prayer she is already naked
we say good morning and I say it again to her buttocks
on the second call to prayer she has left

on third and fourth I am writing drawing walking
on fifth she lands on my shoulder and we become
children who cannot speak or make sense

*

On the other side of a mountain
a black bird stood
on a wall without house

I returned on the highway to Tunis
where she landed again on my shoulder
introduced her name

her name the name for a substance
of a river in paradise

swan of Carthage Salambo

 

 

Arturo Desimone was born on the Island of Aruba (Dutch Caribbean), emigrated to the Netherlands at 20, and six years later began traveling the world. His poems and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Acentos ReviewA Tunisian GirlThe Transnational, and African Writing.

2