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Richard Foerster

Anxiety Dream: Everywhere I’ve Ever Been

Always it starts in some nameless city’s knot

of narrow lanes with the familiar pang of being lost

where I’ve ventured times before. It’s dawn

or dusk. A cloudbank yawns above the pedestrian rush

of infinite promise. At every turn a vista sprawls,

a skyline rears in jagged splendor like a page

from a pop-up book unfolding the maze

I’m helpless to retrace. Each step toward that district

where I’ve never been returns me far from

where my luggage squats on a cart, a train awaits.

A timetable ticks like a stopwatch in my hand

as all the cabs ignore my frantic hails.

Shiva’s Dance (My Tantric Massage)

Casa del Árbol, Puerto Vallarta

What can I say? My mass became irrelevant; my age,

erased. Both melded in the enveloping mist

of his hands—palm, heal, thumb, forearm, firm

or feathering. I lay like a canvas beneath each touch

of an artist’s brush. What did I know, if anything,

of Tantra’s elaborate tropes for the body’s breaking

into bliss? A sitar played, lotus-pink orchids nodded

from the walls. A banyan encased us in its shade.

Blindfolded, I fell into that state of zero G some might call

transcendence—the viscera’s plexus of neural fires adrift

in liminal dark of an almost sleep. At some point this wiry man,

Yair, had begun moving his breath upon the waters of my body

and become, I imagined, multi-limbed, dancing

a world into creation around me. A wash of pigments flowed

along my spine, then rose . . . red, orange, green . . . each

projected on the screen of my brain before they fused

in a flash of white. —Do words exist that admit the ineffable,

the momentary nothing I felt? Minutes, more?, passed

before I woke. Breathe, Yair was whispering, and I breathed:

the linen’s oily scent, the banyan’s musk, the swirls

from a sandalwood stick that eddied across my skin.

An onshore breeze now carried the hum and rush

hour fumes of Vallarta’s traffic from below. Yair stood

above me, naked, with arms branched in benediction,

the blindfold dangling from his hand in a slash of sun.

His flesh glistened with the effort of his dance. The banyan

chattered in a million demotic tongues. From where had I

returned? —Rubbish, I almost said, when he later explained,

“That rainbow was Shakti imbuing your chakras

with feminine energy, that radiance was your union

with the god.” How does one acquiesce to such faith?

He helped me clamber from the table, and we embraced.


Richard Foerster's ninth collection, With Little Light and Sometimes None at All, is forthcoming from Littoral Books in Fall 2023.


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