The Beautiful Boys of Amsterdam
We made love in a glass-walled bedroom.
Opening the curtains brought the city
to our table, and we drank it in.
It was high summer,
and the beautiful boys of Amsterdam
were everywhere, shirtless and smiling.
Who would not bloom there?
Feeling like teenagers, we strolled
along the canal into the red lights,
giving each other permission.
Just after midnight, voices woke us.
Four sons of Adonis, escorting a coatstand
to the boat, like a drunken captain.
Matches flared, and we could see
the candles tucked into his hatband.
They waved goodbye and cast off,
slipping into the darkness under the arches,
their silent ferryman crowned with light.
This was another poem triggered by a ReadWritePoem prompt – responding to Rumi and/or Hafiz. I’ve come across their work before. As a reader it’s great – you let the ecstasy wash over you. As a writer … harder.
In this case, I began with the best intentions. But it was a line from Rumi’s “What Was Told, That” which sparked for me:
was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them
so handsome …
When we visited Amsterdam back in June 2006, I remember commenting on how ridiculously good-looking virtually every young man in the city was. Handsome, smiling, happy. I don’t know if it was just my perception, or if Amsterdammers are genuinely better looking than the average. But that’s where the poem began.
I tried to use some of the freedom from Rumi’s poem too – to try to get away from the feeling that I need to tie everything neatly together. This is only a very rough sketch-draft, but it could be fun. And I’ve been incubating the idea for nearly three years now, so it’s good to finally have something take shape.
Oh, and the story of the boat and the coat-stand? Absolutely true. And if anyone can suggest a better mythological reference than “Four sons of Adonis”, I’m open to suggestions!