“How could I ever have written such a silly thing?” I often mutter to myself, having run across a yellowed typescript or a text unfortunately preserved like a fossil in print. “Juvenilia” is the catch-all for these relics, usually best left to slumber in peace. I have nonetheless taken to waking them, excavating and polishing some for curation, as I put it.
Not a gift, more a burden, poetry nonetheless offers largesse to anyone who has practised it over a life-time, a treasure chest of gilt tokens distilled from past passions and illusions which can still be cashed in for memories no longer in current circulation.
Revising the lyric below has enabled me to stand again on that curb-side of the Boulevard St-Germain, angle Danton, renewing my futile desire for the anonymous woman who stood momentarily next to me before crossing through afternoon sunshine towards métro Odéon in late September, 1965.
Of the winding paths the mind’s eye traces
aimless in the past I risk no comment.
The see-saw of tense and place prevents
my grasping their grammar. Just the moment’s
bustle I know, scant marks of confusion
gilt in the sunslant air: calliope
motes, a wisp of disobedient hair.
Yet given the girl poised light as a lip
on this curb, I could whisper into the soft
nautilus of her ear one secret of time.