The Writer's Voice

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at the French restaurant you spoke no English
garcon, s'il vous plait, garcon, je voudrais
foreign words clearly defined the perjury of your care

(I simply offered deaf-mute cards to passers-by)

your attitude, laissez-faire;
the bill, paid with counterfeit dollars;
an opera crowd, amused perhaps by how I could not translate

you gave this rapt audience your verbal autograph before
we returned to a space of less pretense

outside, blistering gusts
that argued with collars and thoroughly upset hats
caught you unawares,
but I was already cold
from wondering about my role
knowing myself to be a character actor
who seemed typecast to validate the lead

then, suddenly, I was myself, so differently, caught unawares
by finding the Rosetta stone within myself
that released a soliloquy from the hieroglyphs

with an ancient tongue I communicated the raw
nature of integrity and survival

the speech, a shaft of sun on your vampire skin,
the ark of some new covenant, perhaps,
was infused thoroughly with a divine heat

your eyes ignited, your tongue burned out,
there soon spread a prickling heat across your surface
until not a bone was left

except for my bones
now warm
swathed in a spirit which proved itself

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