Sport 29: Spring 2002
Avenue des Gobelins, 1925
Mannequins à la mode, milk teeth
and moustaches, eyes made up in the style
of silent movies—these are individuals
whose knuckles never grazed a cheek.
Mise-en-scène, you join them by an act of will
in the quiet theatre of their gestures.
Messieurs, nearby are stalls piled with battered
top-hats, pews lined with cloth caps bowed
towards the sun. Mesdames, inspect the hair-
pieces and the dentures, the promise of satisfaction
You'd like perhaps a hat like that
worn by the self-possessed girl, who neither
smiles nor reaches out. In every group it seems
there is one who remains untouched by desire,
who observes like an angel ready
to report to God.
At this hour there's no one
but a soldier quitting a woman
with naked legs. She turns inside,
the doorway darkens; he walks
unsteadily off, his right hand
running over his buttons.
Au Lapin Agile
The Cabaret of Assassins folded,
its members shuffled into
a regular army. The new patrons shrug;
c'est la guerre. The painters paint,
their easels accumulating
body parts. The drinkers slug
long shots, small bores.
Rue des Saules, 1926
People elapse through the street, morning
mist. Someone is smoking coffee; Cuisine
Bourgeoise is not yet open for business
and the stall offering soda parisien in
sparkling sherry glasses is unattended.
At the heart of the traffic is arrested
intent, but desire goes on circulating,
gaining currency even as it's spent.
i Keep clear
I was born in the spring.
Set among bulrushes
I put out to sea, drawn
from water to water,
slipped through teasing
willow, harbouring iris,
running over shingle
like water in water.
I looked to heaven for clarity.
Lord, didn't it rain.
ii Psychology Clinic Parking Strictly reserved
The waiting room overlooks
the carpark, two tight places equally
hard to get in and out of. By the time
you get inside, you are already
in the world of dreams—the wheel
needs changing, your sister's steering
drives you crazy, your car has stalled
in a field and you are waiting diffidently
on the roof until the boar stops
charging it. You can't laugh about it
until you wake up. Where have you
put those keys? Whatever
the receptionist says,
it won't be Can I help you?
iii Go to Block 5 via Block 6
I was in love with the lonely bush.
Suburbia, I loved that too, and the way
she was always on the fringe.
All those years I tried to climb
that sheer face, heedless of the path
beneath. All those years of waiting
to be run through with happiness,
unable to turn it on myself.
You sit with Gerald on the couch
in animated conversation. Outside
it's raining on your suburban car,
but here you are, and he is grateful.
He kisses your cheek, looks into
your eyes, exclaims: what a lovely
room! What space can he see
inside your head, inside whose dream?