Christmas, 1998 / No. 2

standing there on an avenue

of waters floating in the air—

above the hum of underground streams,

a sallow lake opposite

the house on the hill—

the plan of it


cautious sympathy within the frame

of my camera lens

if only I had a wide angle to challenge

overwhelming inadequacy, size defying

definition on paper;

the hot fluid of Ceauscescu’s brain

seeping across one

long rectangle in an absurd vision

I imagine them returning

from New York or Leningrad—

being kissed at the airport by schoolgirls

bribed with oranges and a fast ride

in sleek, black Dacias—

damning themselves through the streets

behind darkened glass,

an empty cottage feeling

like acid in their guts,

translating through nights

of fever

into broken spines and long,

narrow ditches down the avenue;

a Parisian boulevard

crumbling in reverse, and a house

big enough to block out the rest

at the river’s ending,

where it slips beneath the hot road to Sofia,

brown boys dive recklessly

into opaque, brown water