Aug 28, 2013

White Slip on the Paris Metro

From the fouled nests of Villejuif
to the street below,
then the walk, the steps
down to the catacomb métro-

I have waited with Moroccans squatting like tagines
and Senegalese women asleep against their bundles,
waited in this crowd like a soul for a ferry
and how many skies exiled?

How many skies?

To ride this silent film under cobbled Paris,
her exposed-bone sycamores,
to pitch and tilt and judder,
there among the speeding cataleptic,
rocking like the drowned,
being how many kinds of foreign
and living like Saint Jerome.
And I speak stone but no one speaks.
I have slept against my reflection.
I have pretended a bored sleep.

But once I raised my head
and saw, I swear, a woman wearing falling snow.
She glowed supernova in a slip.
Not a knot or a kiln or a boat ramp
but a dress from the silver water of the moon
and a liquid shape, each way free.

Not wine-lips red or cricket black,
but blue-shadowed pearl-white silk,
a dress of movie light,
a dress that's all of May,
the force of curve, all liquid words,
a whirly night sea's murmur-
then at once the doors leapt open
and in that hiss like a wave pulling back on the sand,
she was gone.

Yet in a city of crows, my ribs marimba'd,
at that temple door, I was accordion-lunged.
I saw a candle-lit woman in the fluorescent métro,

a woman like a sudden pillar of doves.