I lived in a town,
not a suburb, near a city. That city
was famous for the superhuman
beauty and sophistication
of its women, brilliance
of its capitalists, quips of its suicides,
pride wit clout deaths
of its gays, for the instability
of its bedrock and for its expense.
The town where I lived lived
as resentfully as a pretentious
peasant in its shadow-–only spiritually
in shadow, for evenings
were as bright on our hills
as fulfillment, while through the valleys
of the city fog cascaded
like an eventual sea. I drove there and walked
through a park. I’m sorry for this “I”
that shoves you aside, like the shield
of a cop; you’d like
to be there, admiring the Victorians
that, with lights coming on
and gables and crenellations,
quite apart from inhabitants, seemed
themselves intelligent beings.
To sit in a café
without free refills, local art on its walls
amazingly good or interestingly bad.
To browse plural bookstores. In the park,
a less diffuse light hit
a frisbee at apogee.
The couple exchanging it
were so young that, also crossing
that sward, I felt old,
like the creeps who, it’s well known,
invade parks at nightfall. They too,
I thought, are alone. And suddenly
I imagined a place
with black and white diamond tiles
(why those?) on the floor of its anteroom
(another strange touch), and floor-
to-ceiling books on every wall
where there wasn’t a painting,
and flowers on all
available surfaces–-Why not a maid
to open the door? (I thought, trying
to dismiss the vision,
which seemed insufficiently masculine
or, if this makes any sense, proletarian).
Where was it? I roamed
the surrounding streets, as the sun set
and the fog and cold
came, then drove as purposelessly home.
The mail in my slum
apartment was of the type
addressed to “Current Resident.” I recall
stepping over it, going to bed
without turning on a light.
You may have experienced
something similar in an auxiliary
town, even a suburb.
Or perhaps you own
that house near the park. But times
are hard: the art needs reframing,
a vase broke. The drapes
are faded–-that’s another couple of thousand
bucks; the shelves sag
as the doorbell rings. With every step
across the tiles, your portfolio decays.
As you check to see
who’s there, you’re still breaking even;
then you open the door to embrace me.