Cambridge Book Review

[Issue #5, Winter 2000-2001]


Long Shot Odyssey

Walter Bruno

Canto I

Grabbing a cab from Roissy
passing time as before
under Eiffel's old skirts
beyond the chapels and bars
I slip into town
before the dawn;

counting the pennies
it cost to get over,
lashed to the seat
by belts and rules,
with a Breton driver
muttering, "We aren't allowed!"
I am fetched from the dark
like a coat
and delivered;

here, on this dead patch,
I can watch his front door;
no shore party, but swallows
mourning in a minor choir;

daffodils in the courtyard
I spy, through a portal
formed by the vine
growing from the hair
of twin naiads
since well before flying;

this is the gate through which
I'd have had the coachman
fling steaming horses;

yet here am I on a stone stool
shedding stale airline food;

he does have a Portuguese maid, I see;
she is daughter to the caryatids
who guard the doors;
her eyes drift
as she frets and fingers
her master's bedclothes;

and did those linens drop
wine monograms
of warm nights
as they fled the dryer,
and has their pearled weave
been moulded by the idea
of her thighs --

a voice reminds her of the pharmacy
and strawberries!
whatever's left from his guests ...
Not in the elevator, she thinks, without permission,
not with all his friends ...

high at a window --
has she seen it -- ?
a red anonymous elbow
shows like a reed in winter;

let his arm unfurl;
tell him to wave at the girl
and all the statuary
who here observe.


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