Tova Gabrielle The 2River View, 7.4 (Summer 2003)
Salvia Devinorum, or, The Only Way to Love an Addict

It was nothing
of this world;
not the smoke
from the water-pipe
embedded millefiori,
not the thousand flowers;
not a choke cigarette,
nor breath held in

she’s inhaling

The Crushed Sage,
Salvia Devinorum,
in a man’s bedroom
in April of the terrible
year: O-Three,
in the wonder high
Hills of North Berkeley

how he hides from her
his scanner gray
marbled eyes,
his Mick Jagger mouth
frozen sculpted face

but it’s better for her
than drinking alone,
even in a hot tub
under the stars

He’s a post
UC Berkeley
Tim Leary Wannabe,

carefully measuring out
his leaves that
will multiply, and then
divide her.

It has no scent,
not like anything.

He’d introduced it first
from his laptop screen,
remarking how beautiful
its molecular structure
sea horse,
with a body and tail,
pentagonal head.

To her it swayed
like a skinny dancer.

He’d described the trip, shocking,
lasting only a minute,
he’d merged with
the paint on the walls,
described how he’d feared
to lose the tether
to what
he’d once called

It is almost dawn,
after three terrible years
the 2000 Coup,
911 Collisions
(he names Controlled Demolitions)
pretenses for smashing cradles
of Civilization.

Will a New Dawn still arrive
or is this the end?

He holds out still
hope offering
a frail thread to
the late nineteen-sixties
while across the bay
shops on
Haight and Asbury
with one eye open,
witnessing how
he extends for her,
his light; while his body,
he keeps to himself.

Her heart stopped wandering
in traffic she’s tried
to accept that to love him
is to partition off pride

from behind the veil
of a book
he watches her,

his lengthy back-side settled
against the rumpled
of his bed


she’s amazed
by her arm

It’s not an arm
connected to her:
She is just up to the right
of her body, watching:
in two places
at once

It is not a body that knows or observes,
but an animal, like his cat, Alice,

and another strange thing:
her friend suddenly
has a pointed face,
and his body has
become very small.

She has never seen him
this way before.
He Does what He Is,
half-ignoring her,
he’s illusory:
for he barely inhales as he
assesses her frame
of mind.

For the first time,
she Sees him:
not through her urgency;
he is not an image
of Herself
any more,
not hers to contain
or control or convince
but he is His Own Idea,
as he should be.

He’s like Cat,
at the foot of his Firm
bed with only a thin,
tattered blanket
in his room with only
a tiny covered window
way up
she can’t reach

He is not a trick,
an excuse, an evasion,
not her lover, not expressive,
not like her.

Married to Free Will
and Science,
not someone
she’d hoped for,
not a long awaited
answer that, yes, she is
the best drug, after all.

What, then, to give him,
if not the animal,
separated now
like an untwined piece of rope,
from her watchful self,

the animal below with its arm
poised hypnotically there in mid-air?

Sometimes the highest form of love
is the willingness
to do without

he’d wanted her
to accept anathema
to her animal self:
that she would
ride him,
and he would not
loom over
her yowling body,
nor look down into her
deer eyes smiling,

She would have to join him
in a bowl
of magic
on his Hard
bed in the house
where another hungry woman
brooded over him

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