(Paris, 1987)

More often, now, of course. The different dark,
an amber urban light thickened by snow.
The air’s too cold for talk, and so an hour
of drifting thought, uneasy, humorless.
Mechanically, one does in time begin
to hear what’s there: someone coughs twice, a dog
replies, over the numbing two-tone cry,
on and on, of the French police. And then,
a pause. By four the quarter seems at rest.

And yet, out of the quiet comes a last
low sound, the ordinary, tired whine,
sporadically, of cars along the quay.
Next door, a door is shut, and in the vague
hollow of semi-sleep one hears again
the traffic as in soft anabasis
it empties out the boulevard, the square,
draining the night, until one knows, below
the night, a dark within the absent dark.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 8, on page 42
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