The Half of It

inspired by the film of that name

i.

You want me to turn out the lamp.
I linger on your face a little longer.

They say one side
of a person’s face
is more attractive than
the other. With you lying
on your left side, facing me,
pillowed, I can only see
the right half of yours.
It makes me wonder.

Before we went to bed
we watched a movie
about three kids falling
in love with falling in love.
The opening narration
quoted Plato, who tells us
that the Greeks believed
humans were first created
with four arms, four legs,
and a head with two faces.
Zeus, fearing our power,
split our bodies in two,
condemning us to eternal
search for our missing half.

Alice Wu crafted a beautiful
intimate scene in which two
girls float in a hot spring
face up while they talk,
the still water in the pool
reflecting upturned profiles—
Bergmanesque visages mirrored,
Zeus’s mythic power undone
with hard focus and heart.

ii.

Decades ago I fell in love
with a profile, quite literally.
Linguistics 410 in 1983,
both of us Comp Sci nerds.
I guessed that she was
Lao, Thai, or Cambodian.
While Mike Brame droned
against the Sapir-Whorf
hypothesis I gazed five
days a week from 1 to 2
at the left-sided copper
beauty of that silhouette.
When I finally encountered
her outside of class, I
was profoundly shocked.
She was not beautiful at all!
Or so it seemed to me.
But that profile… Thought
might not be determined
by speaking, but it may
be influenced by seeing;
Sapir and Whorf were onto
more than Brame allowed.

iii.

Now, you: Would I have fallen
in love with you if you drove
everywhere instead of me,
or if we bonded in the U.K.
instead of America, if I
had consistently been looking
at your right profile instead
of your left? Most likely.

You don’t need Zeus.
You don’t need Whorf,
or Sapir, or Brame.
You don’t need Chomsky
or theories of linguistic
competency to tell you
that you are whole,
that the “beautiful”
and the “less-than”
combine to form
a unity neither
less nor more
than the love
you find on
your very
own

pillow. I douse the light.
Eschewing sleep, I rise to write,
thought impinged by sight—
Zeus’s power undone this night.

About Greg Wright

I have worn many hats as a writer and editor over the years. Unlike my scholarly and journalistic work from the "old days" at Hollywood Jesus, Past the Popcorn, or SeaTac Blog, the writing here is of a more overtly personal and spiritual nature. I hope it provokes you as much as it provokes me.
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