Kismet by Diane Ackerman

Bought a friend’s old book as she is preparing to leave for Canada. Parting with books is never easy – I always have a difficult time letting go of works which probably knew me better than I know myself. But imagine passing them on to someone else, someone who is looking for her life, too, among the pages:

Diane Ackerman

               “What can be said can’t be said,
               and can’t be whistled either.”
                                            – Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein was wrong: when lovers kiss
they whistle into each other’s mouth
a truth old and sayable as the sun,
for flesh is palace, aurora borealis,
and the world is all subtraction in the end.

The world is all subtraction in the end,
yet, in a small vaulted room at the azimuth
of desire, even our awkward numbers sum.
Love’s syllogism only love can test.

But who would quarrel with its sprawling proof?
The daftest logic brings such sweet unrest.
Love speaks in tongues, its natural idiom.
Tingling, your lips drift down the xylophone
of my ribs, and I close my eyes and chime.


From Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems by Diane Ackerman, published by Vintage Books, 1993.


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