Paris Imagined

I could go where they have those paintings
I’ve seen in books, or to that park built for the princess
for love, or come back at another time
and see the jacaranda trees in bloom—

is that here?—or the cherries
that festival when people get drunk
put on strange clothes and dance wild
in parades, or have a drink where Baudelaire did—
or was it a painter who stumbled
out this very door and pissed in the alley?

His paintings are worth millions now but then
he slept in the street. Youth, where did
ours go? Was it here they piled the heads
after they cut them off? Or was it down that street
that ends in sky—that rue, where all the places are
we used to know or heard about and longed to go?

I read somewhere we are rich for things
we don’t have to do, the places
we don’t have to go. I drank tea at James Joyce’s
Starbucks and walked in a blizzard
along the Seine, threw snowballs at ducks
while a gypsy tried to give me a brass
ring he pretended to find
for gold — Your lucky day, he said.

Yes, mine. On this river heroes,
saints and fools, the promise of circus
and the dark encroachment of catastrophe
float by behind blowing snow
like a grove of giant cedars on Lolo Creek
another place I’ve never been
but sometimes think I’d like to go.


You Asked

It’s a crack in the wall
I blink through
at a weedy lot I vaguely remember

a door to where the dead
live, to rooms
I’ve only dreamed

a naked dancer in my yard at night
who draws me
to cup my hands to the window—

and when I turn back
blood racing, it’s my own
well-lighted room (chair, table, lamp)

neither dreamed
nor remembered
never even known until now

or later, lying in bed
feeling the wind against the side of the house
coming all the way from China.



What seeds do you carry
and where? I see them cluster
in your hair.

They spill down your back
and scatter across
the shadowed path.

The wind blows hard, the leaves
begin to fall, and in the dark
I smell snow.

What is this language you make
me want to speak?

Your voice carves beauty
in winter air. I walk
behind and listen.