Robin Gow

A Love Poem for Decartes


this is a love poem for you
René Descartes because i think
after all these centuries you
probably need one. did you
ever write a love poem? i think
everyone should write at least one
if they want to call themselves
a philosopher. we read something
of yours in freshman seminar &
i don't remember anything about
it other than you staring into
a fire & thinking which doesn't
seem too out of the ordinary to me.
a few weeks ago a professor said
"we have Decartes to thank for
the separation between mind &
body." i wish you hadn't gone
& done that. sometimes i let
my body run away to made up places
like the grocery store
or the seven eleven-- i always
comes back but we should go together,
shouldn't we? i don't like
to make assumptions but i think
no one must have ever held you
right if you truly thought
there could be those divisions.
do you trust your body? even after
all the times they moved your burial
site from Saint-Étienne-du-Mont &
eventually to Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
with one finger missing & your
skull. i'd like to go visit
your skull someday where it waits
on display in the Musée de l'Homme in Paris.
i'll sit down & wait for after hours
when we can really talk & i'll
ask if you can feel your body despite
the distance. why are you so resistant
to letting me love you? is it the
language barriers or the centuries apart?
i want to argue with you for
writing Cogito Ero Sum
i think therefore i am
mostly because i've heard too many
English majors use it in class discussions
as if saying it again & again could
make it true.
i wanted to tell you
i think therefore
i am cobble stones &
the stop lights that change too fast--
that i think therefore
i write love poems to dead men
whose skulls ran away from
their bodies-- therefore my own
skull rolls in the backyard
like a crochet ball therefore
i'm tracing circles on the small
of your back therefore i'm
walking home in the fog & thinking
of ghost stories--
it would be too contradictory
for me to tell you
i think therefore
i am not-- is that what you
thought i'd say?
contradiction makes for good
twilight talk, now are you
coming to bed with me?
put your head back on, make yourself
decent. have you ever loved
a man before? i'm going to coax
rationalism out of you.
i think therefore
i'm going to keep you awake.

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Robin Gow's poetry has recently been published in Synaesthesia, Glass Mountain, Furrow, FIVE:2:ONE, and Corbel Stone Press. He is a graduate student at Adelphi University pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing. He runs two poetry blogs and serves as the production editor of the Lantern literary magazine and the poetry intern for Oyster River Pages. He is an out and proud queer transgender man passionate about LGBT issues. He also runs a non-profit for trans and gender non-conforming youth called Trans-cendent Connections.