Tonight it seems a flowering branch of the tree of pleasure to sit on my green couch with a tumbler of scotch and a salted pretzel while people pretending to be other people wheel through the toothy gears of their lives. As the last shreds of violet light melt, my old dog snores by my side. His arthritic hips won’t make this leap much longer, and his breath resembles a rusty pulley dragging its load of precious ore. On screen people hurry up the stairs of a Manhattan subway or run to catch a train in Rome on which their beloved recedes, unaware. They hop in and out of yellow taxis that gleam like candies in the rain — oh, there’s so much rain in movies! I like the honeyed smoke of the scotch. I like the crunch of pretzel and the salt. I like my hand on the dog’s warm flank as people eat meatballs and spaghetti and someone spills a glass of red wine and someone sops it up. I like sitting in my faded bathrobe in my tract house on my street with too much traffic, which I can’t hear because now we’re deep into Dr. Zhivago, and “Lara’s Theme” is surging as Omar Sharif trudges through the snow, ice clinging to his mustache and eyebrows. His passion always makes me think of my old love, who I still long for even though we were never hunted down by the Bolsheviks or worked ourselves into an erotic exhaustion tending soldiers in an army tent. We were just too young to know how rare the golden net thrown over us would prove to be. Tonight, though, it doesn’t make me sad. Or the sadness has aged into something almost free of regret, something I could hardly bear to lose.
This poem originally appeared in Projector.