A Plea to the Virgin Mary and The Virgin’s Reply

“Author’s Note: In the fall of 1989 I was living in a Gandhian Ashram in UP (Central India). I wrote the first poem amidst a lot of loneliness and memories of sucking a certain person’s toes. But it had no title. Strange how the better things are on one side the harder they get on the other side. But that’s the nature of life, I guess. If we didn’t know when we were miserable then we’d never be able to identify the happiness. A week before Christmas I went to Calcutta and I met this guy named Bruce. We both knew this woman named Mary. He said “Give it to Mary.” So I titled it and gave it to Mary.  Well, Mary and I ended up going to Darjeeling with a couple Vegans from London. The three were sharing a room and they snuck me in on Christmas Eve Night. The Vegans were cuddling and I was sharing Mary’s bed. They had to hide me in their room while they went down and ate Christmas dinner because the landlady didn’t like me as I was staying in another guesthouse. I was alone and had a pint of Indian whiskey (or brandy?) and my journal and a pen.  I climbed the fence to get out, and when I got up Christmas day I had a hangover and the reply to the first poem ringing in my head.”

***

I want to swallow you whole
have you wet with me
so you slip right down
and in the mystery of ourselves
which pulses with what we are
is a desire
to eat the body
symbolically
to have
to hold
to become
each other

***

And Mary stands above my head
tired Australian woman wants her bed
she is a vision, hair pulled tight
she glimmers in the incense and my brandy sight
I feel, but dare not ask
if she’ll let me spend the night.

By Paul Bourgeois
India, UP, Banwasi Seva Ashram, /89 and India, Darjeeling, Christmas/89

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