The Persistence of Desire


P.B. Adams

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 113 in 2007.

Leaving this would be easier
if only the moonlight seemed
false, the stars less real or true
love less tangible as it is

I will consider a life in some anonymous
city, artificial and dreamlike,
standing on a corner without a dime,
fitting in with all the heartbroken

dimeless others searching for solace
in obscurity amid the lonely and the nameless.
I’d go there to scatter these invisible ashes
we buried in some forgotten place

inside your heart. Still at 4 a.m. beneath
these pulsing stars I cannot sleep,
heart racing to follow or to stay or maybe just
to find the final place of rest, beating

with the stars and very much alone.
I watch Orion chase his only desire
until he falls from the face of the earth
into another night, another's tormented

darkness no closer to love. He persuades
her no more than I persuade you, and again
tonight my chest burns and aches embracing
the persistence of this desire, one small star

of seven even the giant with his glittering
sword cannot touch. The best writers have said little
so little solace in words. What more could I hope
to do, how do I master this desire to go

quietly into sleep when the day shuts down
and stars come alive like neon in some
fogbound city where the relevance of words
weighs less than a cup of coffee,

where a sad gray bird on the sidewalk
offers a sweeter prayer than the priest,
where lives disappear when no one calls,
where the world is a dark room.