For Ruth, Whose Friends Were In New Orleans

How many times have I thought
from my bed of my roof in Paris,
the lights arching overhead
and cycloptic Monsieur Eiffel,
his spin and slow dread

only background scenes
to my cloak wrapped and hiding
salvation in time,
lifting as only the bottom
can vault people higher
by Vouvray or God
or leaping from spires;

only circumstance gives us
the fat for our larders

when later the winter stretches
long in her hours.

O Ruth I miss the time of the day
when all the statues and monuments,
perfectly arranged,
belie their age and seem healthfully draped
by the crack and the fissure
of crumbling French faces–

and you too in your floppy circus hat,
your Italian bartender
and what I thought about that

and the teeth in your head
as you grinned after the fact;

thirsty and satisfied and liquid
in your attack.

No wonder that this island in the past
is unreachable, and perfect,

buried under glass.

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