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Hansel Grows Old

Bread crumbs were not enough—

insubstantial as memory 

flitting away like sparrows

through the trees. He was lost,

tangled in possibility’s inevitable

collapse; he could not pull past

the brush to a salient interpretation:

where he went, where he was going,

or what language he now spoke.

She had fled years ago,

escaped to the witches who

had forgiven her childhood

sins. She no longer believed

in the lies of her father,

the long walks in the woods

with her brother. She returned

now for some redemption,

only to find him not at home.

(October 25, 2019)

An Early Spring Day in Paris, 1984

The Seine flows

endlessly

around us.

We sit on the tip

of the Ile de la Cite

as if on a boat’s bow,

sailing up the river.

The sun shines,

like a promise,

after days of cold rain.

We drink a decent Bordeaux,

eat fresh pate smeared

across chunks of ubiquitous baguette.

Notre Dame looms

darkly behind

in its medieval bulk.

We are in love, as we

are still forty years later.

Nearby,

above a former morgue,

is a memorial

to the two hundred thousand martyrs

handed over to the Nazis by the Vichy

for deportation to the camps

forty years before we sat happily

oblivious to all but the beauty

of that one Parisian afternoon.

(September 19, 2019)

Memory’s Constraints

“the fog solidifies among us”

            –Tristan Tzara

As a dark spider webs

her partly-poisoned prey,

he shapes another wall

around another day.

Beneath his crippled hands

a mausoleum soars

to contain all his fears

in tightly patterned rows.

Each dawn descends to dusk,

as dusk ascends to day.

How one can thus escape,

he cannot aptly say.

Most days are forgotten,

Lost in this clotted fog.

(September 16, 2019)

The Commute Between Day and Dream

Lost amid the accusations

and misappropriations

in bars and vague hallways,

he wakes into his troubles

unable to disaggregate

his shadows from the dawn.

Behind him, they trail ribbons

of smoke, curling about his feet

like cats hunting rats,

whenever he stops to think.

From frozen puddles, old friends

and loves rise toward him;

their faces blurred beneath ice.

They then sink away, as quickly,

leaving him to shuffle his fingers

uncomfortably across the steering wheel

as he waits for the light to change.

(July 24, 2019)