Issue 107, Summer 1988
you know the kind: bottle glass in the window,
brass rails, and a fanciful line of red neon
on the wall. They have known enough to
order Sancerre with the fish. And now they
stoop in the rapidly-gathering twilight,
helping each other off with their coats.
She is wearing a dress from Alcott and Andrews.
The sprigged white flowers like breaths on a black field
cannot chasten the lines of her body
as the air tones down to meet her silhouette.
A necklace flickers briefly
at her throat like an eddy of silver
from a subterranean river.
Then the last light fails with a palpable after-image,
as if it had fled down the throat of an hourglass.
I imagine the stagehand flinging the iron
wheel of the rheostat to bring on this darkness
as if tilting the world with his hand.
For a moment they seem like our first parents, lorn
on the veldt, that barbaric gold light fading;
and, of the strange cries in the night ahead,
none stranger than that of their own conjunction,
the constellations unnamed above them
and God not yet interpreted; only
this clamor for a voice and its intimation
in the ear of an ambiguous companion,
no better than oneself, but other.