Café Terrace at Night
after Van Gogh
The ladies and gentleman, dapper. Astral lanterns glare gaily: the formerly ominous sky, candelabrad and gilded and precious.
(It’s Venice. Or Paris.
They’re tipsy. They’re gorgeous.)
Verandas are paintings for passersby, glaze-eyed, unstumbling, unfazed by the cobblestoned goings. The patrons, bedazzled on red woven rugs, drink café au lait, limoncello and wine.
(And her? No really…she’s fine.)
Though the awning’s aslant, and the golden patina makes faceless and foregone, a shape of a shadow. A man in a doorway. A man she might know.
(Please go. Please go.)
And the curve of his coat summons thoughts of a lamp glinting harshly off mirrors she’d dampened with gauze. That lowing, that losing. That lowering light.
(One terrible night gives all other nights pause.)
But the stars. The stars. The promenade hours. The weather and color. The memories severed by laughter, its washing, its waves. No one gone, no one grave.
Love of infinity
Before continuum, define discrete.
Two points or pennies on the edge of things.
Now halve that space. Things never touch. As if
we don’t collide: my skin, unto, into,
your skin. You say that if we pantomime
shared flesh, it doesn’t mean we’re whole. Discrete.
But we collide; we make tautology
of us. We’re what we are because we’re what
we are—so where’s your tangent? I can be
a line, extend the distance to you, in-
finite; bisect you at a fixed point. I’ll
bisect you only if I am the line.
If I’m the line, intending to bisect,
I must be infinite; you must be fixed.
Fear of sexual love
This scene’s a sad and difficult duet:
etude of please, next time, I need. The night’s
impossible and lukewarm, slightly wet
and half as thick as sleep. I reach for you,
intrude, appease. Each time, my need beats night
to knees and me awake and heavy-tongued
and thick. Just half-asleep, I reach for you,
your neck, your hipbone, chest. All chaste. I clasp
my knees. You’re not awake or, heavy-hearted,
act it. Lucky fan-stirred air has access
to your neck, your hipbone, chest. I chase the asp
that eats its tail. I’ve failed again. I’m nailed
to slats. Unlucky, too-stirred air repressed
inside a bottle. Wailing hunger martyr
who still eats despite and, flailing, fails
to fill, to save. Your eyes the gimlet gaze
of bottle glass, mine hungry, waiting, bothered
by an appetite that grows too fast. I’m not
saved, never filled; despise this scarlet crave
for you, for hurry. Worn, but sure as salt.
In appetite, there’s only fast and not.
Impossible, our lukewarm slightly wet.
My blue hurry, your torn, voiceless halt:
they keen such sad and difficult duets.
A splendid beach, a good-sized bay
the house is an eye overlooking these,
The mother is half-eyelid lowered
above the remains
of the dinner she made and the wine
she’s grown immune to, mostly. Though.
Some costly days her veins
are coursing with it. Her limits
stretched and blurred, a spreading slur,
words overturned as paint. She faints,
but calls it tired. She’s tired, too,
the aftermath of miles. She’s come so many;
forward almost none. This seashore home,
this too much still alone,
one green-blue iris on the 5’oclock,
and then another. Never on the light
glazing the water.
And for the daughter, the sun shone
Nearly, this place owned me.