Susan Michele Coronel
We Both Have a Persistent Ache Toward Gladness
I’m done with online dating, sick to tears
of preening and half-hearted game-playing,
and I don’t expect to find a mate in
the foreseeable future. But I can’t stop thinking
about the Danish movie Another Round
and my obsession with Mads Mikkelson’s blunt-cut
sandy mane, the way it scallops over the left side
of his tanned forehead like the fabric of a wave,
breaking again and again over my lap
as he plunges his head into the trapezoid
under my jeans, his blonde-gray stubble
scraping my wrists as they graze his cheeks.
How I want to dive into the air around his collarbones
and pull him underwater in a nearby lake or stream,
bathing in the shimmer of wet miracles
as my pelvis tilts towards sunburnt sky.
I never want to stop gazing at his cheekbones
and Baryshnikov body, lithe and strong
despite the advances of middle age—
in fact, even sexier because he’s middle aged.
My cellulite jiggles when I walk, breasts
more pendulous than firm, but Mads awakens
the drive inside that still sings of carnal magic.
Even his beautiful body must decay,
but I persist in my ruminations. I don’t know
how many more years my body will captivate
the male gaze, but I am transfixed by the last scene,
when my main squeeze carousels by the harbor
as students and colleagues celebrate, egging him on.
It’s worth watching the scene over and over,
just to see him leap over a bench like he’s in West Side Story,
contorting his torso, elevating elbows and knees
to the endless sun, at last gulping down
a bottle of champagne before he plunges into the water.
In my version of the scene, I am his eternal student
and my bed is on fire. We are dressing and undressing,
our bodies oblivious to aging cells. I am part
of the dance, our teeth rattling, notes
of the background music rising like burnt paper
over sailboats and tugs. Our breath,
a smoking furnace. The smallness of our confusion
in a sumptuous world. The wind ablaze.
The ants go marching without provocation,
soundless clusters as small as eyelashes.
They track into the house, wiggling through cracks,
under windowsills, in spaces between floorboards
and doors. They enter from the underbelly, seeking
food and shelter. Why does their invasion happen
in summer, when rhubarb stalks preen their glossy
leaves toward the sun? I find them crawling
on the floor as I rise from downward facing dog,
sense them tickling my arms and neck when I sit
on the couch. I routinely smash batches of them
with my fingertips like little berries, but they leave
no mark, they leave no tracks. I flick them off
as casually as I say Jesus as a curse throughout the day
without even realizing it. I wonder what their soft
bodies would tell me in the last seconds
of their lives. I don’t believe in resurrection.
Susan Michele Coronel lives in New York City, where she owns and directs a preschool. Her poems have appeared in publications including Spillway 29, TAB Journal, Gyroscope Review, Prometheus Dreaming, and One Art. In 2021 one of her poems received a Pushcart nomination and another was a finalist in the Millennium Writing Awards.