Take me where the garland-strewn lights
whisper something to me:

against the fickle plainchant of early summer
light on the old Quarter blocks,

where the rowdy and the royal colors
of Fête drape the rusted gates of the square,

littered with the careful prosody of
empty bottles that, as my quiet soul,

run with burgundy and must, stained with
lips and careful laughter:

Take me where the city-people, who are
beautiful, run, as I do, from the voice of grace;

where they crowd with listless, chattering
intent against

the fresh paint on the lilac apartment blocks;
where the fragments of meaning rattle and

are lost down in the soft-heaving belly
of a Shrovetide holiday.

And how might I come to know the joy
of the God Who laughs with them

when the breadth of my strength is ashes.
Let the steamships sail in past the ruins

of the levees. The salon music of fog horns
entertaining the stillness of the night

that is complacent as the smile of the funeral
mask. How might I come into the crowd that

is dressed in the ordinary forgiveness of
song, singing like real wrens with voices of wine.

The soft-pinched love that cannot sustain.
The evening sky that drops into my evening coffee.

I am alone before the God Who is on holiday,
His voice humming.

Quiet as the forgiveness of night.