THE FIVE SENSES (posted from Amsterdam)


i. [touch] — pas de deux, Ètrangers

at first i don’t even notice you sitting opposite me in the commuter train. the heat is fierce and i’m preoccupied with finishing writing down some half-formed thoughts  and with finding a place for my briefcase in the crowded space between the foursome of seats. my legs straddle the case, my right leg right up against the floor vent by the window. i look up when i feel your leg against mine, calf against calf, ready to move apologetically. but i’m immediately taken by your runner’s legs, young, tight, muscled, and the fact you’re wearing white shorts suggests you’re not part of the usual commuter crowd. you’re lost in some large artistic magazine and i can’t see your face, or much beyond the hint of a white tee-shirt, a baby-blue sweater draped over one bare arm, and those remarkable legs that ripple with the movement of the train, caressing me carelessly, rhythmically, until i can’t concentrate at all on my writing. i just want the soft pressure of your lovely calf on mine to go on and on.

i tense my leg muscles, partly to make my legs feel fitter than they are, more like yours, but also to see if you respond, if the seductive, insistent back-and-forth movement, le va-et-viens, is deliberate, exaggerated, or completely innocent. slowly, imperceptibly, i press my legs just a bit harder against yours each time the rocking of the train moves them in that direction. i pretend to stretch my leg, slouch down a bit, move my leg a tiny bit towards yours. i look up and discover in shock that you’ve put down the magazine and you’re staring absently out the train window. but your leg never moves, continues its maddening, thrilling stroke in perfect time with the movement of the train. and now i’m tightening and easing my legs in concert with the rhythm of the carriage, our legs are dancing and my breath shortens and your thigh is glistening with summer sweat and i can smell the tension, the restraint, the quivering, the feigned indifference rising like steam.
ii. [sight] — conspiracy

you are at a nearby table when our eyes meet, fleetingly,
then you lower your gaze quickly
i look away, towards the bar,
and then you glance sweetly back at me
as you talk with the people you came with
and a slow smile comes across your face.
i look back-at-you-and-away, back-at-you-and-away, quickly,
as if we’re seeing each other by accident
but now i’m smiling
and you know you have me hooked

your cryptic smile turns to a grin
and then a laugh as you turn to direct it to the waiter
you’re almost whispering to him
it’s a conspiracy now, on the surface shared with others
but really only ours, as if
we were the only ones in the room.
i try my pensive gaze on you —
first eyes up towards the ceiling, as if lost in thought,
then downcast, as if the thought is heavy, sad
but in between a flicker towards you and away
and i’m smiling too, our secret shared.

and then you slow it down, looking away, then down,
then slowly, slowly
up at me with penetrating gaze, an invitation,
you’re drawing me in, teasing me, being coy
and it’s my move, as a latin song comes on and all across the room
bodies start to move faster, caught up in the rhythm
and i rise and walk towards you, moving with the music
peacock preening, over to your table
but just a little to your left — last chance to walk away, end the play —
but instead you move towards me ’til we’re nearly cheek to cheek
and i lower my lips to your ear and whisper
lady with the lovely smile perhaps you’d like to dance?
pronouncing every syllable like a secret vow of love
and you’re way ahead of me
already caught my hand and moved me to the floor
brushing up against me, softly
and whispering back your name.

iii. [sound] — l’animatrice

at three a.m. they broadcast news from foreign capitals
and from france deux comes the voice of a woman announcer,
an exquisite parisienne articulation of the day’s events.

she speaks with perfect elocution, effortless elaison,
the words flow like a perfect mountain stream,
cascading over each other in flawless fluid motion,
her voice slightly smoky, the rolled ‘r’ voluptuous, not vulgar,
seductive, a lullaby of lilting ‘l’s. and the pout of ‘ou’ sounds
so soft and real you can see her lips extend into the shape of a kiss.

Alors que l’ÈtÈ des festivals a perdu, jeudi 10 juillet, deux de ses plus grands rendez-vous, les Festivals d’Avignon et d’Aix-en-Provence, le ministre de la culture, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, a dÈplorÈ “un terrible g’chis” et estimÈ que “le public, les artistes, les techniciens et les villes (avaient) ÈtÈ pris en otage ý des fins de propagande politique et syndicale”.

the voice is like a song, the lyric unimportant,
just hanging on the tender sounds, the ‘p’s, the ‘d’s, the ‘t’s, the ‘b’s, so soft
your mouth must move to mimic their exhale,
the ‘f’s and ‘v’s so sweet you feel the pressure of her breath,
the hard c’s and g’s as gentle as a lip’s caress
the s’s, x’s and sh’s pleading silence, bringing calm.

you picture her, petite and lovely, fragile as a crystal dove
yet bright, with winsome smile and bcbg easy grace and style
articulate and well-informed, as if
the script she reads were off the cuff, completely impromptu

and then the final coup, the quality that steals your soul
the sudden catch in the voice as it rises in a joyful oui alors
her perfect laugh caught mid-syllable, captured in you memor y,
your heart vanquished in the mystery of prosaic song
as graceful as a dance.

(to be continued, two more ‘senses’ to come)

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7 Responses to THE FIVE SENSES (posted from Amsterdam)

  1. kara says:

    A stirring post.

  2. O RLY YA RLY says:

    What? You’re watching tv?Tip: the red light district can be found by walking onto the damrak from the central station, then turn left. Watch out for the she-males. Unless you like that stuff, of course…

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Harald: I wrote this on the plane coming over, based on previous experiences and imagination, not related at all (alas) to what I’m doing in Amsterdam, which is 100% business. Seen the red light district before. Must be getting old, but I prefer walks along the canals, discussion of philosophy with friends, looking at art & architecture, visiting with my wife’s family (off to Winterswijk this evening) and dinner on canal cruises, or out on the decks of Dutch Indonesian restaurants. Your country is amazing, one of very few I could call home.

  4. Avi says:

    Visual! Very visual! Loved going through the three senses! Await the next two. Wondered how the senses could be explored visually? Got my imagination ticking!

  5. Just two to come ? That probably means you’re a phenomenologist Dave. ;-)Ian

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone. Just wait til you ‘see’ taste early next week. Avi, welcome to the blogosphere, very impressive start to your blog.Ian, I thought of adding ‘thought’ as a sense, or even ‘perception’, but I’m trying to use this as a framework for next weekend’s VO, and I’ve got lots of material just sticking to the five most-acknowledged senses.

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