Thursday, July 28, 2011

Madame X

Sitting here tonight, heavy summer air
sagging at the screen door,
in my plunging black slip,
single fluorescent lamp lit,
a bit of sunburn blushing my pale edges,
dodging flits of furred moths
and watching the pendulous
crook legs of the harvester
spider work the small arc
of the crown molding,
I think of the long gunmetal rows,
the back stacks, where I’d sneak
deep in the library to listen to opera:
Prince Igor, perhaps,
large headphones strapped on
heavy and green with a black coil,
waiting out the light until closing.

And while the boyars wailed
I handled the old spines close at hand:
a slim set of faded turquoise Chinese Love Poems,
a thick, glossy, mis-shelved John Singer Sargent
with its jacket slightly torn,
in which I might chance upon
a card, a fuchsia 3”X 5”
tucked in a page where you had written
two or three lines about me, unmistakably:
the chime of my laugh,
or the tangle of my thin silver
earrings, small hammered
glinting pieces
which invariably you’d feel
compelled to straighten
in your desire
for order,
squinting through the slow
pale curl of the Marlboro Light
dangling from your lips,
your soft hands
easily smoothing the twists.


  1. ah, it's all a dance, weaving and unweaving right from the spider web to the music, earrings to desire, Marlboro to hands. i feel it work upon me, charming me.

    and this, i lament i never went deeper into the library. you have me wishing i had lived differently. but of course i wish this even without your poem. and too, of course i accept that i could never have.


  2. This is so gorgeously detailed! Truly enjoyed this.

  3. Thank you, both. erin, I had not thought of this as a dance, but now that you've said it, I see it. I wrote this very quickly last night, so I may poke at it a bit, later, but, right now, I too am charmed.

  4. Eloquent and flowing... love the detailed images which had me right there, second hand smoke and all. I agree... it is like dancing to a song.

  5. Oh lush, Miss Jane, sensuous and so surprising when I got to that opera from the languor of the spider in the heat. I agree with erin, you made me want only to sit in those stacks, fondling books and art. Then that card falls out, and along with it fantasy. The smell of smoke. Oh my. The wildness here, the connections, are buoyant. And I love that word: boyar (something I should learn through War and Peace perhaps . . .