The Girl by the Fountain
In that body warming light of Indian Summer, I saw her sitting by a fountain with the water turned off against the coming snows. The patches of lawn were moist but unfrozen, and the trees were growing sleepy without their leaves.
She was reading a book, wearing cotton pastels of blue and magenta that ended half way down her calf. The pale skin of her ankles separated her clothing from her canvas shoes. Around her neck was a chain of Baltic Amber, yellow as the leaves two weeks gone.
Sometimes, in amber, you find an insect who tried to cross over the sweat of a tree a long time ago. They became trapped as the resin became hard. They’re dead, but still look great. If they still had thoughts, would they scream in terror at the ugly beast which wore them? No more than her I suppose, finding a tomb about her young flesh, put there by her own clean hands.
Languidly, and with great care, her arm dropped down and flicked off the ash from her cigarette so that it would fall beneath the bench out of sight. When she pulled those sky-blue pants down around her ankles, was she that careful passing the paper between her legs? Did she realize where the feces went when she flicked the handle?
In that honey warmth before the ice of winter, the girl on the bench had desire to keep back the coming cold. And I can remember the fantasy of hope that moved like a desert heat-flicker in my skull; or was it lower? Looking back at her hot colors, the pile of ashes under her bench, and the leathers I wear, it is no wonder that passions were never shared in our own form of amber. She never looked up from her book, and I was too weary to dig for fossils. And inside, my fantasy died.
first published in Living With a Stranger: self portrait, 1993.