Why are you writing that book? [poem]

"Why do you need to write a book
like that?"
X lands the question
with her customary totality.  It feels
at first
as if there is nothing
but she gazes
and I remember
that all emotional states and possibilities
are simultaneously present
in her face.

I hear the completeness most obviously
in the final two words. There is
no challenge, no
emphasis, no
enquiry even: and in a flash
I realise
that she already knows more about this
than I do.

I nevertheless flounder a response
involving such sundries as:
     I've been concerned about this issue for years
     It's something about which I've done a great deal of research
     I really feel I've got something to say
     I just think that this is an important theme right now
     I think that I could write this one and it'll be good
     Well I was at a conference a few months ago or
          I observed an interesting juxtaposition or 
          I became involved in an urban programme or
          I contributed an essay to an international colloquium

I come to rest inside
her panaesthetic gaze and
for a moment
I am afraid.
But then she smiles and says:
"It's because you love women."


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