desire towards the ‘otherness’

This last year, as there haven’t been any opportunities to go to meetings in person, I’ve been doing a lot of “virtual networking”. I used to attend face-to-face events regularly, and after the first couple, I was reasonably comfortable walking into a room of strangers and starting a conversation. But it’s been difficult to re-create the atmosphere and dynamic of a physical meeting in an online situation.

It’s certainly all a lot easier than it was back in spring last year, and everyone is a lot more confident about being seen on screen, but the hosts are still uncertain who will turn up and how experienced they will be in the virtual world, so they often fall back on fairly simple ice-breaker activities.

At one event earlier this month, we were all asked about our plans for Valentine’s Day. Since lockdown means there is no chance to go out for a special meal, arrange a spa break or a surprise weekend away, pretty much everyone in the virtual room said they’d be buying a bottle of wine and ordering a meal to be delivered.

I’m not a great one for take outs. Somehow they don’t seem particularly romantic to me. But perhaps it’s a good enough excuse to re-post this riddle poem.

Danse macabre

How does it make you feel as I spin round this pole of steel?
My skin is oiled and tanned, and I’m sure you understand
that I’m lean as well as curvy, but there’s really nothing pervy
though I see you salivate … as I gyrate.

I hope I can assume you want to take me to your room;
I’m waiting for the word: will you choose me for your bird?
For you, I’ve lost my head and heart; claim me before I fall apart!
I’m not a strip-club dancer, so: who am I? Can you answer?

Working from home has done nothing to improve my diet and I’d definitely rather be given flowers than food.

(Actually neither were forthcoming, which was no great surprise – I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s since the year at university when my best friend and I took bets on who could get the most cards. Four decades on, I still want to know who sent me the one signed Clement”.)

I was going through old photos yesterday and was delighted to find this photo taken in Madrid probably twenty years ago. It seems a good photo for today, even if I suspect the rose was actually for el día del libro, not el día de los enamorados as roses and books are given to celebrate St George’s day.

man holding single red rose behind his back

There must be a lot of people who haven’t been able to see their partners today due to lockdown, so perhaps this piece is appropriate.


It’s late. She takes her laptop
to the empty bed. Cross-legged
on a king-sized island, she re-reads
familiar messages. She stretches, twists
to feel the touch of cotton on her skin.
She clicks refresh; refresh; refresh;
but no news comes.

The silent screen illuminates
her nakedness, casts shadows
on the curves and hollows
of her flesh. She falls asleep
at last, and through the night
a small light pulses at her side;
refresh; refresh; refresh.

The blog post title today is my own translation of a phrase from a 2002 interview with Jenaro Talens. If you want to know more about why it seemed a suitable title for a piece about love poetry, you can read a bit more in of love poetry and distractions, a blog post from 2012.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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