He arrived in that remote place accepting
it was a form of escape, a stopgap
conspired by his cowardice and native inertia.
Everything was parked:
trees, scooters with their snarling vim,
the plazas riddled in loose moonshine,
even his own hands as they laid the paper
and steered the pen, even the leaves,
moving in the breeze, even the breeze itself,
for him, were unoccupied, their various engines off.
His life, he knew, was elsewhere.
A small set of disasters, each with his autograph.

There, he fell in love, that most
particular and quixotic of amnesias.
All change!
There would be powerful music before his grave.
They’d find his fingerprints on the sun.
The whole city dissolved in a glass of tea:
inspired, he began to write his greatest masterpiece.
By day, he wrote the woman who, at night,
wrote him, drafting and redrafting, over and over again,
his notions of what the new may be,
how the continents of sense could claim him wanderer,
where, in moments that formed like pointless tears,
he felt how unbearably acute
was the skin’s separation from its fruit,
and sundry other simple things that queued
the ordinary into its exquisite passing.
His life, in other words, returned.
Meanwhile, in the hometown of his fickleness,
his family waited.

He wrote of a person of great dignity and style
whose flaw was that they cared too much.
His hero sought to reform foolish laws,
but the authorities were quite against this.
The government was blinkered, composed
of greedy, narrow-minded people, who preferred
the sun-daze of their egos to making any just decisions;
besides, it seemed to them they faced
irreversible state decline and problems
too embedded and too serpentine to wrestle.
Their aim was to control the people, not to help them.
He wrote of the fervour, the vision, the gargantuan starlight
on the evening he first met the Countess.
The gullet of Fate. The loss of permanence, a fall
into insubstantial life, a seedy encounter with glamorous
ne’er-do-wells, the dandyish villain with a melancholy spirit
so sumptuous it seemed like a branch of atonement.
He wrote of the truth, of the acme, of the heights.
He wrote of the beauty of revelation, and of revolution, too.
He wrote of firebrands and of hearts that burned
everything they encountered
to purity, people too dangerous to have around, and too
mesmeric to send away, and love affairs so ludicrously uncontained
just peeling a tangerine or taking a shave
felt like strolling around on the surface of the avid sun,
when all seeing was blindness.
He wrote of loyalty, of honour, faith, of souls resigned
to staying, to holding out, to hanging on.
He wrote of the war, with particular
attention to the splendid uniforms,
the gilt and silk and shimmering plumes.
Yes, absolutely everyone was there. He forgot no one.

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