Jack Butler

The Lady On the Train

I

And when I see you in the hall
and you see me, and our eyes fall
to other puzzles, we
do not forget the mystery.

In any idle interlude
I think of you, I think of you nude,
your swaying fall of soft brown hair,
that sudden intake of breath, right there,
right where Iíd kiss you . . .  

II

We have a history now, a life together.  
I have run to meet you at a cafe in rainy weather  
somewhere in Provence.  In Taos, apres-ski,  
no one in the hottub but you and me,  
an icy magnum standing by.  Vanilla  
pralines in Mississippi.  The fountains in the villa,  
eucalyptus in the springtime sun,  
sea-spray over the old stone wall at noon,  
walking the white beach barefoot.  Your eyes,  
always, deliver a clear surprise,  
profound as cold well-water in a dry throat.  

You have a film, of course.  Youíll take the boat  
on Tuesday, and probably Iíll  
enjoy the solitude, stay on a while,  
finish the novel, take the air.  Espresso  
at an open-air table mornings, maybe gesso  
a canvas or two for later.  That sort of thing.  
No doubt, eventually, Iíll have a fling.  
Or several.  Happy.  Natural.  Brief.  Intense.  

Giddy preludes to our next romance.  

I have explored your body so very thoroughly.  
sliding my hand under your silk gown at a party to find you,  
and heard you sigh wearily,  
and offer yourself, leaning back against the wall.  
I have tracked you in the dawn dew,  
sleepwalking wet clover to the horse stall,  
and there, in the straw and manure and warm stink  
of the steaming animals, before we could quite think  
to be civil or wake up . . .  

III

At last we take the express on which we met,  
and the floor swings under our feet,  
the steel wheels clucking their comforting racket,  
making each step a dance.  And you attack it  
so gracefully, with such a sweet  
and fluid balance,  
so completely at ease with your multiple talents,  
your robe falling open and shut  
and open to stay,  
footfall after naked foot,  
smiling, coming my wayó  
you get the idea.  

IV

Evangeline, Judi, Georgette, Marisoló  
whatever your name is, I  
have loved you impossibly well  
in a hundred lifetimes.  All of those lives will die  
when we do, and all unknown.  

We have hurt no one, betrayed no one.  
This is our greatest grace.  
I will never forget your face.  
I will leave nothing at your stone,  
nothing at all but this.

 

 

Kathie George 9.jpg (107799 bytes)

(photo by Kathie George)

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