When she told me how men give
affection to get sex, and women give
sex to get affection, I was taken
by surprise. After long talks on
the serpent path, auras & chakras,
Descartes' dream & Pascal's vision,
Blake's flower & Dante's journey,
and all those sages who drank
waters of the thousand-petalled
lotus and the celestial rose,
how I'd float with chalk swans
on children's sidewalks, ride
the unicorn in a virgin's dream,
listen to bells that make the stars
twinkle, after all this, she asks me:
“What is it that you give?”

I raise my arms to the beaver moon,
search the lunar hare for an answer,
breathe the wintry wind to inspire
my spine, and after a long pause

I tell her what Scheherazade gave
to Ali Baba, the Open Sesame
which cannot be given and has been
ours even before the beginning—
the aleph & beth of sun & moon,
the seed & container bearing fruit,
the love between father & mother,
spring rain & autumn harvest,
dragon pearl & phoenix fire,
and all the 1001 nights flowing
from that one speck of snow—
the single point in our heart
that spans and shines over
all the mosques of Arabia
and the plains of Zululand,
that opens the soul in me & you.

Peter Y. Chou
Palo Alto, 11-24-91

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (6-22-2000)