Monday 4 June 2012

A Date with Desire by Helen Yee

There’s something magical about the first warm days, when people cast off their jackets and sweaters to soak in the warm energy of late spring and the primal energies are palpable. It feels almost as if our animal selves and desires stir, loudly enough to enter our consciousness. What happens when we notice those stirrings and pay attention to them?

I wrote this poem more than ten years ago, and looking at it now I see something beyond a poem about flirtation.


Warm spring night, with that scent in the air
spread over sidewalks, hanging in doorways
not the sweet scent of flowers
something else.

Two guys walking
eyes catching something,
two girls walking
but who’s counting?

Upstairs, in cool grey domes, no accountants
take up sharp no. 2 pencils to enter figures
in a tidy ledger.
But all eyes clickclick,
an abacus betraying surging signals
from somewhere farther south,
and in the deep, warm jungle a cat makes a move.
He leaps to touch a restaurant awning,
a muscular flash of shoulders and forearms
stretching toward the winking arch of sky.
The girls pretend not to notice
as their accountants finally take up pencils and laugh.

With our own creative desires, it can feel like a dance of courtship between the animal self and the rational self. The point isn’t to only hear our inner desires, only to sit down and rationalize them away. The magic of our desires can only come to life once the jungle cat and the accountant go on a date together. Here’s a fanciful reminder to you (and to myself, since I keep learning and forgetting): notice what jungle cats are leaping into your consciousness, and try inviting them out to tea. It can be a wild ride, but we’re worth it.

Helen Yee is an improvising violinist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. Currently violinist for the eclectic string trio, Trio Tritticali she also performs on yangqin with Music From China. She considers the practice of improvisation in all its forms a profound teacher in art and in life.

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