Young Woman with a Shuttlecock
My everlasting nude
in our museum of innocence,
you make my awkward left hand
love friction’s nonfiction
like a naughty bright child
who aims for old fire in the new.
It’s ok to lie down
with a fallen chandelier.
I have architectural values.
While I’m no cellist
I do like wine
old roses in the nose
Young woman with a shuttlecock,
I will tell you since you ask:
I am the musician
and other lost figures
returned to your hand
by the God of Matches,
and there is a game just
beginning in the failing light.
Feathers will fly.
At the Lingerie Factory
The first crucial element of charm
is the yes of the eyes which turns away
from the one who would be charmed.
While the conveyor belt yields box
after box of satin cloth with lace
around the edges, her eyes veer
to a bright vending machine near
the break room. She pretends to be
fascinated by the brightly packaged
crackers stacked on a coil. Hungry,
blank, as a watch face, he looks at her,
and she looks away like St. Francis
from an extraordinary breakfast.
Anyone knows so much lace is so much
emptiness, and the smallest clasps
in the world are half-meant to defy
the fingertips. Her eyes are absent
as the new moon, the merest halo
overhead outside behind the day
like an impeccably vacant galaxy,
and he can’t decide between asking
her to go with him for a cigarette
or maybe to the surly gelato shop
in the city near his third favorite church.
How can he choose when his eyes
are full of the curls of her long hair
spilling the language of bougainvillea?
A Message from the Cardinalate
Should we apologize for the cockeyed floors
dating back to the age of Hadrian
and for this plain hypercorrection:
the yellow room only looks yellow because
it is gold. We are prone to distraction
what with here a little Pantheon repair
and there the softest linen skirt in the world
for an old pope. Frankly, we go overboard:
the gift of a fountain to a blind beggar, the folds
in the cloth of the marble of Bernini’s
Teresa of Ávila on a cloud in an aedicule,
or a drone strike on the Barberini boys.
We reject the adage, If you’ve seen one dungeon,
you have seen them all, for we have witnessed
worms of every size and color. Like a magnet
to the flames, we experiment with the sun.
When God is sleeping with his eagle,
we are like a woman with a peacock
under her arm telling the river hush.