To the French Language

I needed to find you and, once having found you, to keep you
You who could make me a physical Larousse
Of everyday living, you who would present me to Gilberte
And Anna and Sonia, you by whom I could be a surrealist
And a dadaist and almost a fake of Racine and of Molière.
   I was hiding
The heavenly dolor you planted in my heart:
That I would never completely have you.
I wanted to take you with me on long vacations
Always giving you so many kisses, ma française
Across rocky mountains, valleys, and lakes
And I wanted it to be as if
Nous faisions ce voyage pour I'étemité
Et non pas uniquement pour la brève duree d'une année
   boursiere en France.
Those days, and that idea, are gone.
A little hotel on the rue de Fleurus
Was bursting with you.
And one April morning, when I woke up, I had you
Stuck to the tip of my tongue like a Christmas sticker
I walked out into the street, it was Fleurus
And said hello which came out Bonjour Madame
I walked to the cremerie four doors away and sat down.
I was lifted up by you. I knew I couldn't be anything to you
But an aspiring lover. Sans ego. It was the best relationship
Of relationships san ego, that I've ever had.
I know you love flattery and are so good at it that one can
   hardly believe
What you are saying when it is expressed in you.
But I have loved you. That's no flattering statement
But the truth. And still love you, though now I'm not in
   love with you.
The woman who first said this to me nearly broke my heart.
But I don't think I'm breaking yours, because it's a coeur
In the first place and, for another thing, it beats under le soleil
On a judi or vended matin matin and besides you're not listening
   to me
At least not as you did on the days
I sat around in Aix-en-Provence's cafes waiting for you
To spark a conversation—about nothing in particular. I was
   on stage
At all times, and you were the script and the audience
Even when the theater had no people in it, you were there.