Green oil smoked and caught. One murky light
Went bobbing one time through one finite night
Here on the northern edge of an ordered world
Shrinking inside its borders. The oil-smoke curled
Invisibly on the darkness and was gone.
The lamp survived to nest, a squat clay hen
On the shop lady’s palm. Sehr gut? she said,
Feigning patience. Fifty deutschmarks for a dead
Zippo, or its enduring antiquarian
Equivalent dredged up from some Valerian-
Era street-beneath-the-street, common as dirt
Itself–was it worth that? Would a t-shirt
Have meant more, or a postcard matted and framed
To say, We Were Here? A lamp that flamed
Once briefly, waned, died, and was thrown away:
Does it revive for us that chancy day
Of sun, rain, each other, in that town
At the end of the straight road, where the stone
Walls rose, fell, were scattered, all but one
Time-black segment standing in unveiled sun
To be photographed and photographed by us
And forty Japanese whose crimson bus
Snorted as it waited in the street.
Blink went forty-one shutters. That was it.
A woman wiped her lens and then her sunglasses
With special tissue. So a moment passes
Into silence and is lost. What passed between
The Black Gate and the shop remains unseen.
Did we eat ice cream? Did you hold my hand?
Was I morning-sick? Mein freund, mein freund,
I can’t remember. Only the shop-room, dim
After the brilliant street, only the woman’s firm
Question -- So? Her impassive silhouette.
What else did she have to sell us? I forget.