The Ghost on the Handle

The Ghost on the Handle


The houses here are named La Vague and Chantebrise
like places in a childhood daydream,

an actual lake filled with literal swans.
As a kid, I was most at home in the pages of a book,

a bee sliding the banisters of the blue
delphinium. Apollinaire called his books,

in the soft golden bindings of the period,
his blocks of butter. The sun here is like that,

palpably stacked, flaking off the wavelets,
filling the boats with yellow flowers, crowning

the heads of the young couple arguing, body and soul.
He calls her Pig, whore. Pig, whore,

while she sobs and keeps trying to touch him.
I didn’t know it then, but when I was her

age we were called borough girls: a little too
fashion-forward, filthy-mouthed, and ready

to settle at seventeen. The older you get
the less surprised you think you can be,

but when the bus with its Sans Voyageurs sign roars by,
I think of my child who won’t ever get born, ghost

in a sunhat, shoulders narrow and pinked. A swan,
ungainly out of water, slaps up the shore to preen

with its knobbed orange beak. Mallarmé wrote that
everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book.

A golden book. Death, is not this the sunshine?

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