To Maureen Holm
For a time in Paris, October '97
This city lives on its oblique corners, shaded from
False steps of power, fake styles; even odd shafts of sun,
Never counted on. North breeze, slant rain, river mist
Can set a tone: passionate, inside the harsh climate's crust.
We all warily cast some change, while holding firm
On to a bank of values, long accounted from
Time round the face, where hands mark each Revolution
On the hour to strike, to press on, to heat the iron.
This off beat, Left-Bank bookshop, sheltered from chilling rain,
That Fall, we met at, to read lines by ourselves, or from
Great authors past. But this place will raise fresh issues.
This brief week we'll launch our voices to make waves.
Book-rooms aloft crowd in young minds come eager from
Each tongue and nation, through The Latin Quarter's curved Metro line,
Drawn in style of words and shapes to grasp on; where
This one rule goes: that no-one will; in our liberty held here.
She poured wine for the room; speaking her rhythms; imagining
Herself as a boat lost on the flow; as The Ardennes Drifter wrote on.
Outdoors, in Left-Bank mist, on my palm she traced the sense
Of time which lasts beyond our strictest lines.
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