I am not a person who succumbs to sentimentality often.
Not that my consciousness cannot be tweaked by a sweet thought, or a kind word. Not that I do not have a deep appreciation of art and how it variously moves me, in one or any of its forms.
But sentimentality — of the artificial, uniformly packaged and bound variety, such as that perpetuated across the globe on Valentines day — leaves me colder than the mouldy piece of cheese at the back of my refrigerator.
I make a point of not participating in any calendar-scheduled romantic events, partly because for many years i was not in love and it made me feel excluded, worthless and inadequate, and partly because being of Jewish German, Polish and Lithuanian origin, i have a genetic tendency to be stubborn, argumentative and “just-so” about these things. Why should I necessarily demonstrate my love for another on *this* date?
Moreover, does doing so on this date make it more special, or does it detract from every other day of the year, and the love that should be going on 24*7? As if this date superseded any other, or precluded myself or my lover from doing so publicly at any other time.
It seemed false and manufactured, two of my worst fears when it comes to feelings between my heart and another. The fear being, of course, that said feelings were not genuine; that they had been summoned specifically in order to display how another heart felt for mine as a public, almost staged gesture. Which would prove me right, or rather, would prove Captain Paranoia right. I carry him with me, he sits happily and persistently on my shoulder, swinging his feet in the breeze and whispering mean and cruel nothings into my ear.
“He doesn’t really love you. He never did. He’s just doing what’s expected of him in order to keep the gossipmongers down, or to make himself feel better. It’s about him, and the rest of the world, not you. Never you. You’re not worthy enough of the attention from another — and why would he or anyone else be able to truly love one such as you?”
Have you ever noticed how Captain Paranoia has a Santa Claus-like quality in that he manages to affect many people all over the world, all at the same time? No? Just me then. OK.
When love is shown me spontaneously, particularly in light of the above, I accept it with no strings attached, and no second-guessing. It takes more than a single occurrence for me to be able to return the love as love per se, but i can and do reciprocate as honestly and genuinely as I can.
My Dom and my lover — the same man, in the event that this is the first piece of Elegant Smut you’re reading — sent me a poem today.
This is not an unusual event. We often exchange poetry, since we both share a love for language and especially the beautifully intricate way in which a poet uses imagery to suggest feelings, emotions, notions, ideas, pictures and sensibilities. Imagery that belies the fact that, were they to be communicated using plain speech, they simply would not have the same effect.
Either way, today, I choose to share this poem with you, with all due credit to the original poet and translator. The beauty of receiving the poem today, February 14th, the traditional celebratory date for the various Valentines who existed, but not as a “Valentine”, is very special for me. Much like everything he says, does or sends to me. Much like everything he is. Intended with love, but not because he has to.
Thank you, my dear. Today you touched my heart, although have no fear, it was not for the first time.
El Alfarero (The Potter), by Pablo Neruda
Your whole body holds
a goblet or gentle sweetness destined for
When I let my hand climb,
in each place I find a dove
that was looking for me, as if
my love, they had made you out of clay
for my very own potter’s hands.
Your knees, your breasts,
are missing in me, like in the hollow
of a thirsting earth
where they relinquished
we are complete like one single river,
like one single grain of sand.
—Translated and © Mark Eisner 2004, from City Lights’ The Essential Neruda