One night on the deck of a houseboat
in a canal where swans swam
you told me about love, how it appeared
in Arab poetry and French chansons.
We were lying on the deck
watching the chalkboard sky
on which you wrote my name.
You had a pigeon, almost white
that you kept in a cage.
You even sang, and the next day
you waited for me when I
left the building where I worked
and so you were it then, my lover.
You didn’t bother about foreplay.
Moist, we were swimming over each other,
and the rubbing of skin on skin
is what I remember, the Turkish music coming
from a house across the quay.
Your face changed into that of suffering
and death, your movements more mechanical
than human, you were not you anymore.
First you made love and I learnt.
Then we made more of what we had.
The chalkboard became a grey slate,
the swans now were crows. It ended
when the sun entered your
Amsterdam window and I opened it
to let the white dove go.