Dust from the Tuileries walks

clings to my suede boots,

but the small violet mark

on my right breast has started to fade.

I’ve watched it disappear

beneath towels and sweaters

these days that you’ve been gone.

I’ve been biting my nails,

always when I read.

I have little attention for

A Farewell to Arms,

bought together

in a Burbank bookstore.

It sat on your shelf at ease

for years, before I reclaimed it

to be read, as it should.

Toujours, l’intention

but never the completion.

I am not quite halfway through,

Expect to finish someday,

Though I can’t say when.

Fitzgerald, too, wrote things for me

to read.

He recounts days at Princeton,

and I miss my Yale lointaine —

ainsi on s’entend bien.

I find, without much looking,

myself in these texts

which have not been touched

by your hands and eyes.

How long Hemingway sat

parmi les autres

never to gain your admiration!

Perhaps once I’ve read it,

long after my violet mark fades,

you may borrow it again.

I rest meanwhile by the quais of St. Michel,

and when you see me next,

you will, je crains, be disappointed.

It’s not that I want to live

sans doute au-delà de toi

but the air here does me good.

The sun, when it shines, is sweeter

than our gold California days.

I love you more since I can keep you

without forgetting myself.

The sight of my words on a page is too

tempting to pass up.

Don’t lament the absence of your name

or, in its place, another’s.

Your presence lives in its best dress

even as I breathe in,

look down, dust off my shoes.