They sit around in the house
Not doing much of anything: the boxed set
Of the complete works of Verdi, unopened.
The complete Proust, unread.
The French cut silk shirts
Which hang like expensive ghosts in the closet,
And make me look exactly
Like the kind of middle-aged man
Who would wear a French cut silk shirt.
The reflector telescope I thought would unlock
The mysteries of the heavens
But which I used only once or twice,
And which now stares disconsolately at the ceiling
When it could be examining the Crab Nebula.
The 30-day course in Spanish,
Whose text I barely opened,
Whose dozen cassette tapes remain unplayed,
Save for Tape One, where I never learned
Whether the suave American,
Conversing with a sultry-sounding desk clerk
At a Spanish hotel about the possibility
Of obtaining a room,
Actually managed to check in. I like to think
That one thing led to another between them
And that by Tape Six or so
They’re happily married
And raising a bilingual child in Seville or Terra Haute.
But I’ll never know.
Suddenly I realize
I have constructed the perfect home
For a sexy, Spanish-speaking astronomer
Who reads Proust while listening to Italian arias,
And I wonder if somewhere in this teeming city
There lives a woman with, say,
A fencing foil gathering dust in the corner
Near her unused easel, a rainbow
Of oil paints drying in their tubes
On the table where the violin lies entombed
In the permanent darkness of its locked case
Next to the dusty chess set,
A woman who has always dreamed of becoming
The kind of woman the man I’ve dreamed of becoming
Has always dreamed of meeting,
And while the two of them discuss star clusters
And Cezanne, while they fence delicately
In Castilian Spanish to the strains of Rigoletto,
She and I will stand in the steamy kitchen,
Fixing up a little risotto,
Enjoying a modest cabernet
While talking over a day so ordinary
As to seem miraculous.
—from Rattle #18, Winter 2002
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