Buttes-Chaumont, spring

One day
when the world
was blue balloons
and love was new
and they’d forgotten
to cut the grass
at Buttes-Chaumont
we rolled like
bales of cotton
down that hill
of moiré silk
near-blinded by
the shimmering green

and I laughed
– timid as a girl –
and your laughter
held mine aloft
like Camille
in Rodin’s palm
and you wrapped
your wooly coat
around me
so I’d be warm
and we slept
in the sun –
two spoons
in a velvet drawer.
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The Map of Love

I Sightings

On some green strip of earth
where ewes watch over lambs –
some ancient narrow spoon* –
blown low by wishbone winds –
currented and berried –
the urge to other

sugared soft the cage-bound heart
of the downcast blue-eyed boy
and, silent, he then built a boat
of wreckage and defeat
to sail across uncharted seas –
an ocean’s raging heat –

to where
the phoenix-girl lay sleeping
on a seaside mossy slope
cloaked only in her dreams
and rock-honed hope.

II Moorings

So soft the keel on kelp and shell
he homed into her harbour,
set fire to his makeshift craft,
then scaled the hill
to where she dozed;
and as he climbed
he combed the tall weeds
with his fingers
as she so often did
imagining him
locked warm in her long tress.

III Meetings

Light and dark not meant to spawn
a grey and mulching quiet
Dark never fully triumphs
for it cannot – Hope ignites
whenever backs are turned

No, flames and all their shadows
dance together – sing and whistle –
wander over walls or forests lush –
and when the orange fire wilts and yellows,
beneath the ash, lie glowing embers
Love’s hush and potent mystery.

The Map of Love is something that can never be –
not once for all recounted to explain –
for Love has never more than simple history
– a thousand thousand histories of longing,
dreams and joys to douse whatever pain

IV L’envoi

She took his hand and led him past
the tripping boulders – thorny dangers and
the town below – until at last
they’d reached a clovered copse –
sweet-smelling spinney –
and there she wrapped her arms around
and drew the longing to her veins
until she felt his naked fever calmed.
In misty rains they stood – invisibly linked,
like all that roots and grows within love’s wood.

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* the name Witherspoon used to mean a place of sheep. inspired as well by Dylan Thomas’ story The Map of Love.

 

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[they told me]

they told me
they had never been apart –
and when I frankly doubted
they said nope, not ever more
than eight straight hours
’cause neither could ever stand it.

I know I laughed,
but now I see –
the hour hand’s hit three
and I wonder
what will happen to me
if it reach ten
and you’re not back by then?

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[When time has swallowed all our precious hours]

When time has swallowed all our precious hours,
has minced the minutes, seconds, days and years
and drowned a sum of seasons in our tears,
does anything remain we might call ours?
A scent of fresh cut grass that’s tasted showers,
the sound of rain – to which a heart adheres
much as a mother’s voice will quell our fears;
all else, it seems, fierce Chronos soon devours.
In naming things that cannot be erased –
yes, fragrant earth – but am I not remiss
omitting one to never be replaced :
is there not plainly treasure more than this?
The mem’ry of the night we first embraced;
the joy that fills my heart each time we kiss.

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a word, in passing

the greatest expert knows
that wisdom grows on trees
but it’s not easy to convey
such expertise – however much
one might so be disposed
[to share, to care] and hence
he tends to waffle in the breeze –
[on no side of the fence]
his lecture’s more a sneeze
[and so he never charges fees]

the finest lover too is hardly ever…
I mean he never sounds
like one you’ve heard –
[he is an even rarer bird]

all those who truly love can sense
they’ve hardly tapped the vein
[the mother lode of Love]
never so much as skirted the limit
of what the heart is capable of

the true lover would never pretend
as he knows love’s lessons never end.

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Autumn’s chickens

So they’d finally made it – or
maybe not quite, no, not quite.
He was standing by the wrong
Hôtel but then, they all have
the same name
and he wasn’t used to
European treachery.
He’d left his bag at the
station (for a fast escape?)
but now he looked like a
lampost without a bulb
just a thing to hang balloons on
and she knew it was him
just as he knew, although
they’d avoided those trades,
focusing more on baseball cards
but now this was serious business.
So
since he couldn’t handle registering
she left him outside like her labrador
when she went to the Post Office
and he looked at his shoes alot
while she did the deed.
With a key the size of Pluto
attached to a keyring the size of
Jupiter they went up in the
ridiculous elevator, found 309
and
never even bothered to lock
the door.

These two should never
have been let out alone
but their respective children and
spouses had taken one or
another fast train
leaving them to wander their
respective limbos and now
here they were.
The sun was out – and in
through the thin white curtain;
the light was cool, out of sync
totally with both the sun
& the radiator. She unbuttoned
her first button, finally got her coat off,
and facing her he began to mirror
before she got her sweater over her head

They were only about four feet apart
but words would have been lost
en route so they said nothing.
If they’d been eating popcorn
you would have said they were
each other’s main feature.

She picked up her pile of disguise
and went to place it on the low wide
windowsill and walked over to take his
hand, take him to the shower, but they
barely made it the four steps to the
bathroom when he was unmistakably
aroused so she spoke – maybe not;
we might hurt ourselves.

Hearing her voice for the first time
not bounced off a satelite dish he
responded by leading her
to the edge of the bed.
He wanted them both to sit, but
as they’d never done any of this before
she didn’t know where all her legs
went – which made her laugh –
so he lay back and hiked himself
full length onto the bed and slowly
she sensed some less foreign country
and managed to slip him inside her
as she straddled, kneeling.
He raised his forearms so she
could slide her fingers through his
and now there was hinge and
balast and balance.

Her eyes told him not to
move; he had obeyed her
eyes long before he had ever
seen them, and they stayed
like this – superficially
motionless – until god,
the universe and several
full orchestras pitched in
and blew their tantric souls
to smithereens – at which point
they did actually voluntarily
join in the coda.
Having figured out
where to put her legs
as he sat up, they wept
each others tears
before he said he thought
they could take that shower

now

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