The girls with the pre-designed
rips in their jeans are out in force,
the confidence of youth smeared on them like honey.
The confidence of the day too, columned with light,
leaning toward autumn and the closing
lake resorts, the leaves that will conquer
the widest boulevards, the day
the Qing Dynasty artists proclamation of happiness—
“a teapot with geese and grime”—is on full
display and nothing is demeaned, the day
no one is invading anyone.
A highrise apartment in a blue building,
the Seine a glimmer in every direction—
a man and woman’s last night together
studded with bright, dwarf stars.
Books, figs, a poster from Spain. Clothes
in a pile on the floor, one speckled pink
skirt on top and the woman sitting in a wicker
chair, wearing only white panties,
asking accusatively “Where do you see yourself
ten, twenty, thirty years from now?”—
just as another man is walking along Rue Pascal,
still hurt by the obstinance of memory,
but ever hopeful, looking for the right roses to buy,
to give to any woman who wants them.
Children in Navy Suits
The wagon of rags will arrive.
There they are—a boy and girl—
sitting on a bench, waving to the sailboats
languishing up and down the river.
I want to buy them both ice cream,
but my selfishness talks me into getting
a cone only for myself.
“Two scoops,” I tell the vendor, “it’s the best
way to ward off despair”—and generous
he is, loading the cone full and high.
I walk to the river’s edge, pick out a decent
set of wooden planks, slip off my shoes and socks,
let my feet splash in the cold water.
For a moment I’m a child again and I don’t care
that I know that everything ends—the ice cream
going down my throat is the most important,
the most beautiful occurrence in all the world.
Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest Josephine Baker Swimming Pool from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Stand Magazine, december magazine, On the Seawall and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusets with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong. He recommends supporting the Franciscan friars.