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Kiss/Hierarchy
by Alexandra van de Kamp

Bonjour Tristesse

(for Jean Seberg)

Summer is a slippery sorbet, flavored
in lemon, raspberry,
or some other fruit-splashed shade. Bonjour
to the clairvoyant, rippling day.
It is 93 degrees in the shade,
but, hey, the shadows appear tame—
each shaped like a champagne glass
filling with something dark
and thrilling, something you can’t
put a name to, although you have a feeling
it’s naming you, as it drinks
up your arms, as it climbs
into the rooms you hadn’t known
you kept inside of you. We are each
a portmanteau that life unpacks:
one compartment spilling out
into the voracious air, and then,
the next. You think your motives
are better than any other girl’s? You think
you can pinpoint the exact place
at which intentions
tenderly wait? The heart
is a continent slipping inside,
or a Riviera about to slide and slide
into the Mediterranean—slack-jawed
and patient. Play the crap tables, heroine,
roll the dice, your taffeta dress skimming
past the gaming tables—in one hand
your gold-lamé clutch. The body
a champagne glass time twists
between index finger and thumb,
a nimble, shattering thing
we hate to see undone.
How far would you go
to hold onto what you presumed
was your own? To own
a verb with such a decisive,
ominous groan. Summer is a tray
upon which a medley of delicacies
is delicately displayed: in the morning
café au lait, in the evening, the sky
a crystal-ball blue. And,
my heroine, which pleasures
will you fight for, which hors d’oeuvres
will you choose?

 
 
 
 

 

 
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