I admit it, my life, I was totally taken with you. I went along,
laughing and smiling, or sometimes on the verge of tears, good god,
groveling in the halls for your praise and recognition,
your adoration. Meanwhile, bodies mean nothing, you said.
You think yours is so special, you laughed. The deserts are strewn
with them. Graves, pits, rivers are jam-packed with bodies, you said.
But the music was cathartic, I said, the glorious waves of sound.
Don’t you remember the jazz trumpeter in Paris,
how I rode behind him on his hog on the Champs-Élysées
in the middle of the night. I held on for dear life. Ha!
Don’t let me stop you, you said. Apricot jam on fresh croissants
and the little room, the bed with bright white sheets,
the window overlooking the park…
Everyone’s Paris memory, you said, with a yawn.
I’m gonna play the trumpet ’til I’m not here anymore,
jazzman crooned. Me, too, I said, whirling like a dervish in
that chambre de bonne, I want to live like that, with my heart
swelling, my whole body alive and spinning and thrilling for you,
my life. We held hands, we jumped up and down, we screamed…
What more do you want from me, you said.
Emily Fragos is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. Her newest book of poems is Saint Torch (2017).
Image: “Paris Bridge.” Arthur B. Carles. ca. 1906. From The Smithsonian.