The City of Paris has You in Mind Tonight
When G died began the midnight panic attacks.
He spoke French and English
but that didn't help.
How the body can betray.
It frayed and decayed and then
he was removed
from it promptly and with force.
To begin with, a bit of pressure
in the throat.
A tendency to choke.
And then how lavishly
it grew to overtake him.
At the funeral his wife
had a gaudy kind of beauty.
Sheer and elegant in a champagne
silk blouse. And where did he go?
No matter where on this earth
and you could never find him.
Flowery and young
came the mourners, like bridesmaids.
G would have liked it that way.
Stilettos and stockings.
The curves of the widow
sleek and sublimate in blacksilk pants.
went shopping or to the movies.
We drove to the crematorium.
I can only hope
so many beautiful women
come to my funeral, M said.
Just at the moment when the person has disappeared forever
they tell you he's alive forever lucky him.
The church hushed dark a ruin
and all of us inside it.
(The city's a brute the sky is a brute
though the day is calm and clear and mild
strain to comfort console
but there's no dispersing this.
O incidental fragile beloved one,
chance of recovery none.)
The city of Paris has you in mind tonight—
Let its bridges lift you up.
Let the city of Paris write you a letter,
the men of Paris open their windows,
tending their gardens of giant snapdragons.
Let the city perceive you.
It is infinite and slow, it will have you back.
The beds of Paris are made for you,
the city of Paris is sending you
steak and water, wine and eggs,
it has cafés for you, a broad-flowing river
and many crossbreezes.
When vaulting under, when the body
has shown you its foul airless destination,
let the Saint-Sulpice declare living
and visible your clever spirit your kindness.
The tables of Paris will give you food
here are some macarons pink-sweet with jam.
(Rude-blooming the flowers of Paris
as if snout to blossom
could uncover could reinvoke.)
How is it to have a body today
and walk in this city in the sun,
a bit shocked to find ourselves actually here
with books and teacups and ghosts
and time ample, a slow greedy feast.
If there's no one to walk with all over this city
you can go to the movies can hurry stop
buy a bunch of lavender, a book, pastry
be someone distinct true personal and new.
The mind rivers out, angle by angle.
He was sick and now nowhere
and soon the cities and soon the planet and yet
the decadence and festivals
boys running, couples
swooning on the bridge.
Tonight G's attached to a city,
where I carry him along in my head,
ordering dinner, sitting in the square
drawing the sheet up over the body
that happens now to be lying there.
How emptily the time goes, how rosé.
The waiter, he had a frank stare.
He wanted to be admired
and I admired him.
In the café everyone was alive.
Everyone was eating, the garden
full and flowering wet
and pleasure-dome the earth
the days go on
and G not and G just
and how can a person
and now one less
and she crumpled thing now
as if each were an original grief
now gather here and look.
(Everyone this summer is obsessed with Michael Jackson.
A cold place in the center feel it.
In central Paristhe French are saying 'moon walk.')
I drank the tiny coffee
but it didn't work
tried the pills
that are supposed
to make you happy
the pills that are supposed
to make you free.
The man on the
corner is a flasher
his skin bright blue.
In front of the Métro
grandpa is dancing.
When he looked up
there were so many
cracks in the sky.
Walked until the caffeine wore off.
Until the buzzing stopped. Walked.
Food everywhere and everywhere people
putting it into their mouths. Butter and cream,
fruit and sugar, coffee and wine.
People on the island swirling gelato.
The private inner sweetness. When the rain
comes down you can feel less lonely.
You can feel cozy even shut alone
into your private room. When the sun
comes out it's a disappointment.
Who on earth can live up to it.
The days go on despair and elation in alternation.
Blazoned swinging moods so big
And what is the arc of life.
And up ahead nothing.
On the other side what.
The city says
just live with the mystery don't fight it.
This is your life, life using you.
The great diminishment coming—
You're not the only one who feels it.
It's not like you're any more mortal now
you were always mortal.
So try a moment of lightness
like when the red bird appeared
on the terrace and it wasn't mystical
wasn't anyone returning
The old man in the wheelchair smelling of garlic
the little dog in the grocery cart
the homeless dog and his homeless owner
the dog's sad-looking face
he stays all day in the grocery cart
the sympathy one feels for a dog
helpless in his dog life
the sympathy one feels for a man
helpless in his man life
for the grey cat leashed to the fire hydrant
the sympathy one feels for a woman
alone at the dinner table.
In the hot courtyards
It's hard to walk
in a skirt in this weather
the wind catches you.
A gradual slowing
and she turned transparent
just a window, just a sensation
of walking, a blister.