She of All the Volumes of Verse
these things reappearing before her
seemed to widen out her life; it was like some
sentimental immensity to which she returned.
Flaubert, Madame Bovary
point she knows she isn’t the same
she as the she’s
who inhabit those other
But possibly the nurses assume
It’s even conceivable they suspect her
be Emma—“Emma” the homonym
of “she loved.” Though she’s sure,
she’s fairly sure she did love him.
Those evenings they spent together.
in bed sheets, lights dimmed.
sunny days they floated, arm in arm,
the rippling, purple fields of Drôme,
with the fragrance of lavender.
uncapped, memory’s perfume
or repel. Now she’s in her eighties, either
to relieve the daily tedium.
she’s bored with habitual fare.
simply a truism that anything unaccustomed
spice the day with its flavour.
retrospect, she is the synergistic sum
the she’s she ever was, and quite
these she’s are distinct within her life’s
her forties she didn’t consider
might, in fact, no longer be the same
she as when she was a girl.
the passage of time
middle age with perverse humour
allowing vanity to cloud wisdom.
eighteen years her junior, the flirt!
protested eagerly and succumbed
to this dashing, long-lashed flatterer!
in Grignan, at the Clair de la plume,
minutes of wagon-rutted roads away by car.
husband, it happens, was conveniently in Rome.)
the angle of her neck and shoulder,
to the oak four-poster that filled his room.
first (or was it coy?) she shivered.
she unbuttoned her dress for him,
fall, she was the blue lagoon of summer.
slipped in, swam in her warmth.
he was her first amorous adventure,
couldn’t simply revel in eroticism
construing some affair of the heart.
a few months later, alone at a museum,
on her: she keened from medieval armour
tarnished, empty shell he’d become,
always been. A mere flutter of sighs. He’d never
substantial. All along, it was her own dream—
and knight and forever after.
after. Hmpff! Forever be damned!
initial, long-ago tryst is just a blur
along memory’s grey-scale album.
death notice in the morning paper.
coronary, it says. And he was handsome,
his sixties, the photograph confirms.
though he was her first, he’d seldom
her mind since that dalliance, years before.
fantasized re-imaginings, now, are welcome.
quite heartening for a dowager,
visions and revisions of herself as a vamp—
even cataracts can’t obscure!
she’s seen in this nursing home
sweet old thing with fine white hair
and sleeping in a clutter of heirlooms.
lived with a benevolent calendar,
with her life’s outcome,
doesn’t mind that she isn’t young any more.
she has a past. Because after the prim
girl of inhibited desire, came a year