The Burning Room, by Alvin Pang

30 September 2012

Aubade on a picture of spontaneous combustion


When my lover returns
to his wife, his suburban apartment, the comfort
of a seasoned bed bearing
his beautiful weight

I say nothing.
I do not not or sigh nor breathe the light
starting to bleed into the room
the colour of saints

being martyred in portraits.
I walk the gallery of his absence, a tourist only
to this surfeit of space,
the erasure of lines

that is his gift to me.
It is enough, I think, to watch over the wide
territory of his need, to guard
the frontiers of desire

with my body and silence.
It is enough. And so I do not stir,
even when the flames bloom
fresh petals

from my unbrushed hair,
pursed eyelids. I disappear
into photographic retreat,
chemical shadow. So

when my lover returns
I am already the ash he wonders at
and brushes gently away
from the hood of his car.


[Read in When the Barbarians Arrive, published by Arc.]


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