After Touching You, I Think of Narcissus Drowning

How desire is a thing I might die for. Longing a well,
a long dark throat. Enter any body

of water and you give yourself up
to be swallowed. Even the stones

know that. I have writhed
against you as if against the black

bottom of a deep pool. I have emerged
from your grip breathless

and slicked. How easily
I could forget you

as separate, so essential
you feel to me now. You

beneath me like my own
blue shadow. You silent as the moon

drifts like a petal
across your skin, my mouth

to your lip—you a spring
I return to, unquenchable, and drink.


Copyright © 2021 by Leila Chatti. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I turned to the myth of Narcissus as a way to understand a man I loved, but the myth ultimately revealed to me at least as much about myself. What interests me about Narcissus is not his vanity, which I think is a mischaracterization, but his desire, an obsessive yearning that is his undoing. I am that kind: one whose desire leads to self-destruction—one who knows this, and still chooses it.”
Leila Chatti