Elizabeth Jacobson

Notes on Desire
December 23, 2018 Jacobson Elizabeth

Notes on Desire

Archytas of Tarentum said the most fatal curse
given to men by nature is sexual desire
which fills the mind,
displacing more important thoughts.
Like what’s for dinner
or what’s happening at the stadium
in downtown Tarentum?

There are eight of us in the room talking about desire.
One person says, I always want what I already have.
Another asks, is there a want that has no yearning?
A third chuckles, no “I”, no problem.

Desire is the boldest gift of all.
A pair of burying beetles
sanitize a mouse carcass with their saliva,
mate on top of it.
When the offspring hatch
this is what they feed them.

A female mockingbird calls chip chip
And the male responds chip chip awwwwwWWW,
his deep throated trill at the end
gets her to move deeper into the powder puff leaves.
Chip chip chip chip chip chip, she says.
Gator, gator, gator, gator, gator, he says,
and flies to her tree with a twig in his mouth,
jumps on her back and wiggles his tail.
She cranes her neck, tries to shake him off.

Best to keep hitting yourself on the head,
is what an ancient master said,
as he slapped his student in the face
with the sole of his shoe.

The mockingbirds are still in their tree.
I can overhear them.
Build me a nest, she says. Make it soft.
I know you, he says. It will never be soft enough.

Elizabeth Jacobson was the fifth Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico and anAcademy of American Poets 2020 Laureate Fellow.  Her most recent book,Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air, won the New Measure Poetry Prize, selected by Marianne Boruch (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2019), and the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for both New Mexico Poetry and Best New Mexico Book. Her other books includeHer Knees Pulled In(Tres Chicas Books, 2012), two chapbooks from Dancing Girl Press,Are the Children Make Believe?(2017) andA Brown Stone(2015), andEverything Feels Recent When You’re Far Away,Poetry and Art from Santa Fe Youth During the Pandemic(2021), which she co-edited. Her work has been supported by grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, New Mexico Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. Elizabeth is the Reviews Editor for the on-line literary journal Terrain.org, and she is co-founding director of Poetry Pollinators, an eco-poetry public art initiative supporting native solitary bees. She curates a community reading series for Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts and teaches poetry workshops regularly in the community.