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Letter to Isabelle Eberhardt

February 10, 2009 by · No comments

David Chorlton

Photo: scfiasco

Dear Isabelle, I’m writing as one who can’t find his way

to a culture he’d want to check into

as he would an old hotel

where the rooms hold stories about the guests

who slept in them and the lobby has a table

overloaded with out-of-date magazines

from which pages have been torn. I’m the kind

of person who only wants to read

the missing parts. Since I first encountered you

floating on the smoke

of other men’s hallucinations

and measuring the creases in a beggar’s face

I have sent my imagination on dangerous missions.

It comes back to me unharmed each time

after slipping through checkpoints

and riding on a horse that would leave me

sore if I sat for long in the saddle. Those wide

open sands, erotic dunes, the sky

weighing more than the earth it touches,

the hammer in your heart as you raced

fate with a man’s scarf trailing

from your feminine shoulders into desert without end

and the frightening objectivity

with which you stared into someone else’s life

rise from between the lines of print in your books

with an aroma that curls

into the reader’s mind and stamps it

with purple ink to indicate

the right of passage anywhere. So, thank you

for going first where you loved the country you chose

over the one that educated you, for not judging

the people whose lives were stretched without ambition

from horizon to horizon in the kind of heat

I became fond of here

in a different desert, but one in whose light

I too am a disguise.


Categories: Frontpage · poetry


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