John and Leopold share Henrys in a way,
both naughty, though one is quite willing
to jump your bones if only your husband
weren’t present in the room, while the other
is content with a letter, knowing he will
never see you, never touch—

There are laws against both—  of decency,
written on parchment with a feathered pen.
How to begin— you and I as we make our way
down corridors crowded with paintings,
Degas and his dancers.  Manet— we are both
in love with Morisot.

Beauty flickers— the battery runs down,
and you look for an outlet somewhere.
I try to explain that one summer we laid
Mexican brick in straight lines, trowelling
the mortar liberally and tapping into place
each piece, the sun unmercifully hot.

You dip your finger in cold water
and touch it to my lips.  We drink beer
at a café on 24th street between the wars,
before the weddings, before the children
were born, before decorating the Christmas
tree—  the beer numbing our teeth.

You try to explain the afternoon you met
me in the park to tell me—  we are both
in love with Morisot, but it isn’t enough.


from Dust