At the far end of the room a discredited waltz
Was alive and reciting tales of the conquerors
And their lilies– is all of life thus
A tepid housewarming?

It seems I forfeited my perfume somewhere between Five State November and the dawn of the new decade. I’ve looked for it everywhere and it is gone. Two nights ago I dreamed that I found it– one of those cruel, mundane dreams which blends so casually into reality that you feel robbed midday when you discover you’ve been operating under the misapprehension of two realities. Like the rest of my life: I even pulled down a similar bottle, assuming it was the right one and overturned it onto my wrist. I forgot about the chipped lip and sliced my wrist open, again.

When I was ten my class took over a restaurant for a night to learn about business. I didn’t want to wait tables or cook food or hostess. I wanted to be the great arranger, expediting all the meals, pulling all the different arenas together. My only lasting memory of that evening is of one of the real waiters showing us how to pull a table cloth, like a magician, out from under a set table.

I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got right now. Gently wobbling, trying to reorient myself, I look down and discover that the entire setting has changed beneath me. I keep looking down at my feet, surprised anew. Or I keep acting as if keeping the false past in the periphery will encourage it to become presently true.

Or. I keep waiting to smell like myself again and then realize I no longer want to.

Once an hour I think that I am only a moment away from restoration and then remember that I can’t even beg this away. I keep pausing, mystified, certain that I could rectify this grave problem with one phone call. The truth! If only everyone had a grip on the truth then the good would come tumbling in, would start now, would arrive in nearly no time. I keep acting like my feelings and hope can change this if only t hey are revealed. But I’m wrong. It is like surrendering yourself to someone’s death even though they are still alive. Ashbery is called in but doesn’t help.

… It was time to be off, in another
Direction, toward marshlands and cold, scrolled
Names of cities that sounded as though they existed,
But never had.