Poem That Begins With An Excerpt From Bertrand Russell’s Biography And Proceeds to Paradox
… and it turned out on logical analysis that there was an affinity
with the ancient Greek contradiction about Epimedies the Cretan,
who said that all Cretans were liars. Though Crete is now divided
on the question, sipping thimbles of dark coffee at one end, ouzo
at the other. Far from Paris, where your young Greek girlfriend
screams at you on the second tier of the Eiffel Tower. Yesterday
Melina fancied a limited print propped up against the Quay
that would be perfect in the dining room of the small house
you mean to have when you’re both sure of things. Someone was juggling
on the broad concrete foyer of the Pompidou: a badminton birdie,
a bowling ball. A chainsaw would have completed the flashback
to Venice Beach where you first saw Melina walking nine dogs
on the Strand, when you likened her to the sun among those yapping
planets. You ran your finger around the tight inside of your collar,
and recited Pi to twenty-one place. She held your face in her right hand
and the dogs in her left. One thing led to another.
In the Metro, you watched a woman arrange her hair, as only
the French can manage without self-consciousness. While Melina
contemplated baby names that echoed in the small tiled tunnel:
Alexandra, Anaxamander, even Paris. Names that provide an identity
even before personality steps in to contradict. An old man sold her
a lottery ticket from a long flimsy ribbon of them pinned
to his lapel, and you told her how you admired her grasp of nomenclature,
numerology. Piaf smoldered from the PA system, or someone
close enough. Melina stopped dead in the turnstile: “Why
do you lie to me?” Melina, the pragmatist, who loathes
anyone who doesn’t loathe themselves, now perched
on a railing, one hand grasping the metalwork, the other waving.
A man on the ground with a pipe between his teeth mumbles “Jump if you must.”
And you say to her, “I have always loved you, we only needed to meet”,
so she lowers herself to the cold metal platform and moves to you as you
sign up to reconcile her self-worth with your self-doubts. Five thousand miles
from your family of liars, 23 years since your first kiss. 120 meters above
the vendors and barge traffic, from which you descend, arms around
each other’s waist, doves mourning in the Tower’s chords. The man no longer
has his pipe and smiles as you pass, as if he know he’s only here for affirmation,
and a sunset that began in Athens stretches across the long walk to the cab stand.
A thousand ships depart from Marseilles. Melina’s already asleep in your lap.
On a whim, you say you’d like to go to Illium. The taxi man smiles
beneath a full mustache, puts the flag up, points the cab east.