“we love one another like poppies and memory,
we sleep like wine in a seashell,
like the sea in the moon’s bloody rays.”1
Even in the present tense and indicative mood, the speaker’s words contain a distance and an “if only.” The poem inhabits the utopia of a moment, whose impossibility is felt as a lament in the comparison of the retro-future and the present. We know which one we make now.
The poem’s imagery of coronae and red water reminds me of Lem’s Solaris: “The wave-crests glinted through the window, the colossal rollers rising and falling in slow-motion. […] Thick foam, the color of blood, gathered in the troughs of the waves.”2
1 Paul Celan, “Corona,” in Selections, ed. Pierre Joris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 44.
2 Stanisław Lem, Solaris, trans. Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox (San Diego: Harvest, 1987), 8.