He who stole my virginity

A writing teacher once told me that any good poem has to have a good turn. It has to change direction in some way that catches the reader off guard, surprises them, transports them. This poem, in its first three lines, contains a turn so wonderful that I can never really believe it. You can find the poem in another of my favorite anthologies. The book is great and the poem is magnificent:

He who stole my virginity

He who stole my virginity
is the same man
I am married to
and these are the same
spring nights and
this is the same moment of
the jasmine’s opening
with winds just coming of age carrying
the scent of its flowers mingled
with pollen from Kadamba trees
to wake desire
in its nakedness
I am no different yet I
long with my
heart for the delicate
love-making back there under
the dense cane-trees
by the bank of the river
Namanda in
the Vindhya mountains

(anonymous, translated from the Sanskrit by W.S. Merwin and Moussaieff Masson)


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