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from the June 2013 issue

To a Young Man Who Arrived at the Party Dressed in a Lady’s Fur


When you got to the party, sent by God knows
whom—contingency, probably—wearing only
a lady’s fur, at the outset closed,
though only thrown on, shut but unbuttoned, 
nothing else on and totally bonkers
like some awesome Saturday night exotic
dancer at the apocalypse, then, implausibly,
the mood softened;  goddamned obnoxious,
obviously, but also with a waft of honesty
from your naked lodging in that savage cloak,
soaked in the skin’s perfumes and washed
unexpectedly up on wine-soaked coasts,
you stretch and yawn, posing, half exposing
and half not your glistening body,
a Venus’s shell fastens shining disks
to your throat’s and collarbone’s white skin
pressing against the fur, caressed like the Virgin
caressed the Christ child where he lay hidden;
you sense you’ve been devoured one minute, and an instant
later are evicted  from the soft interior
of the fur, its seamless, snug abyss,
from nature’s brim and from the night’s pit,
naked as Joseph when his brothers had stripped him
of his many-colored coat—but you’re going to be king,
already you’re the center of the party, gilded
in admiring glances, young and brilliant,
powdered and rouged, literally tipsy,
the fur half shut; wonderful, isn’t it,
at the same time exposed and cherished so intimately!
You caused us all to remember our beginnings.

“Till en ung man som anlände till festen klädd i en dampäls” © Håkan Sandell. From the collection Oslo-Passionen. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Bill Coyle. All rights reserved.

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