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One Moonlit December

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Feminine Musk


My body temperature is steaming, higher than the highest calibration on the stem. I need to get out of this hot house.

I go out, walk past the stream, to the overgrown meadows. There is a lake at the end of it. I am not a swimmer — but I like water on my skin.

Blindly, I follow the foot-worn mud-track to the shores of the lake. It is a very large lake that almost looks like the sea. This stretch is isolated, visited only by people who might stray off their course.

I reach the water's edge. I dip my feet in it. It is freezing even on, what I thought was, a hot scorching day. Maybe I am misguided by my own body temperature.

I unbutton and take off my sweat-drenched shirt. My jeans are drenched too. I cup my hands and scoop out fistfuls of water and splash it all over me. I am drenched, seemingly cooler, but still hot in heat.

I let my feet dangle into the water and just lay back on the shore's wet mud. I do not know when, but I must have dozed off — lying dead still.


The taste of cold glass-stem in my mouth woke my senses. A cross-country trekker who happened to pass by this route thought that I must be 'not-quite-dead' but close. She decided to stop, take out the medical kit from her rucksack and help me.

When I opened my eyes, I was a little bleary. I couldn't quite focus, but saw an outline of a woman's face, her hair falling all over my face and naked chest as she knelt over me holding my hand counting the pulse beats.

I wasn't still quite there yet — she took the thermometer out of my mouth, read it, and then without saying a word took her scarf off and dipped in the lake water. She put the drenched feminine-musk cloth on my forehead, pressing down gently as the cool water wet my hair and upper body.

I did not say a word, how could I, I thought I was dreaming. She did not say a word. I just looked at her, long and silently at the same time, hoping she did not think I was staring at her.

She was wearing well-worn ankle-high Birkenstocks, denim shorts, skin-coloured sleeveless vest-top, large silver earrings, and a silver necklace with a stone pendant that dangled very close to my lips. Her kohl-lined Wedgwood-blue eyes had a deep penetrating gaze.

Her wet scarf on my forehead was trying to bring my temperature down. But my body heat was rising. I could only smell the air's heat, my body heat, her heat, her female scent — I was feverish and woman-soaked.

from nthposition and forthcoming in Blue Nude: New Selected Poems & Translations 1980-2010.