Cold Steps Empty Cup

You know that feeling
when you’re lost at the edge
of Montmartre,
or Downtown or Old Town,
lost on purpose, meandering,
and you stop —
arrested by fragrant croissant
or coffee or apple tobacco.
There’s a narrow lane climbing away.
Exhaust stains on washed out walls.
Heaped wet dumpsters dripping
on broken cobblestones.
The echo and promise of violence.
You want to go.
 
But you’re only half meandering,
half lost, and
golden rooftops and spire tips whisper:
dusk is near.
Time to wander directly
to where you decided to be.
The lane is the long or the wrong way,
and anyway, life abounds
in sweets, coffee, smoke.
You don’t go.
Sitting on cold steps now,
with wine in a paper cup,
looking out on a peach-purple city,
It’s beautiful, five stars, thumbs up…
You feel nothing.
It is a postcard with no message.
The couple nearby speak American,
the hawkers are selling mockeries;
Here may as well be anywhere,
to know this known,
You are alone.
 
Thinking about that lane.
Though it’s gone, a phantasm,
you just know
you’d have found a place. 
Two lovers eating cake in the corner, 
a moustachioed waiter watching football, 
an old man at the bar in an old peak cap
who smiles and says hello.
Guesses where you’re from. Remembers your slang.
Just a holiday, you say,
when he asks What brings you here?
What you mean is, To find you. 
Drink by drink you’re drawn together
by the alloy of your bones.
He invites you to dinner.
Suspicious of serendipity,
you say no, you couldn’t impose.
He insists just like you’d hoped.
You go.
 
At his table
playing with candle wax,
you share what you’ve had and lost.
Lives so dissimilar that it’s clear
you are the same,
in heart and shadow.
His wife and daughter arrive.
You stand to help, they make you sit,
You’ve never had lamb like this,
they say, and it’s true.
You are home.
 
Lingering in a goodbye,
a moth leaving a flame,
you say thank you, sorry
to take so much and give little.
The old man says a guest is a guest,
and a ledger man, wretched.
Outside, yellow street lamps
etch the slow rain.
Shoulders shrugged to the wet,
heaven blessed, you’re going.
The daughter calls from the door:
Hold on, there’s a club, if you like.
A guest is a guest.
You go.
 
She takes you in
to a dance floor
of fireflies and mountain men.
Lost in a glowing poly-erotica
you serpentine, divining,
following her to new friends
who embrace you
with black-lit smiles and cheap vodka
mixed with something foreign,
and you are not a foreigner,
and dancing now,
and bound and moving now
with the daughter
to a rhythm your hips don’t know
close and low
your breath
her breath
your breath suspended —
paranormal kiss.
In the hotel you make titanic love. 
Here is here.
Dawn glows peach-gold
on sated hips.
… If only you’d gone,
You’d go.
 
Cold steps. Empty cup.