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from the September 2015 issue

Frail Before the Squalor

Frail before the squalor            
squalor being a feeble answer
the everyday self gives its own abjections
it surprises me to be in a city whose name
like the humidity that clings to its ancient walls
or like its tubercular pigeons
means nothing to me
any more than being inside its plastic image
as I sink into La Defense
lose myself in the ardor of its past

     oh the purity the freshness of withered things
     piles of feathers cover us
     undressing us in your presence
     and you, city I live in                                               
     are you collapsing or emerging                                         
     from my kaleidoscope?

Not far from the modern station I settle
into cramped spaces with poor ventilation                                                        
ghostly stretches where you (with limited means)
can cross the afternoon of a godforsaken summer                                 
from a single angle only
            —the wonder of afternoon—
its caress along my sex is like a specter’s                        
and my love for this afternoon is just like in the movies.

The ardor of the past lies in childhood
but I can’t dwell too long on this transparency
and I’ve got no desire to erect a childhood
what’s wonderful is the gnarling branch
that extends forever out of some base substance (the refuse)
and so is this lack of flowers along the gray afternoon.
Leaning in your arms:
your freshest smile rising
from the old Bastilles
my privates are inflamed with greenish fluids   
like impressionist colors
walking in order to grasp the rigid autumn of the Louvre
the stone feelings of the Egyptian Venus
or the bronze gesture of a gladiator’s leg
          —basements and galleries of stolen treasures—                           
I keep walking, I feel for the lesion of memories                                   
my body of a girl
             the rigid silence
of purity
nothing back then could penetrate my fear
the way this city can get inside my greed.           

Read more from the September 2015 issue

Carmen Ollé

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