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Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Who was he÷that waiter so majestic and droll÷
as he presided over our dinner at the hotel in Vezelay,
the way he spun his balletic bulk to and from our table,
his pride in each exquisite gesture of service,
and who were we sitting there in northern France
sipping our wine and trying not to think of dying,
was it a reproach when you said I was devoted to pleasure,
were you beginning at that very moment to fall in love
with the woman at the table across the way 
who gazed all night at her deformed husband
with adoration, remember our waiter's jaunty glissades
to the dessert cart, the play of his hands like the sweep
of Christ's arms lifting out of the tympanum over our heads,
remember how we felt that in another life that wife and husband
might have been our friends, we might have
all walked up the hill together to the cathedral at dusk
or joked that the zigzag of Christ's legs
made him look as if he were dancing, remember
my insatiable hunger for touch, the desire
of a cicada rising through the evening air,
our waiter's moon-white innocence as he bowed 
and presented the check, then the silence that fell between us
when we climbed the steps to our room,
each exiled in the midst of pleasure, you
slipping back down the stairs of your first life,
I stranded like a cicada in passion's momentary song.

© by Rita Signorelli-Pappas


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