Eleanor Writes She’s Reading Rimbaud

No one’s serious at seventeen.
—by A. Rimbaud

I’ve been reading Rimbaud again & I must confess
that his beautiful nights & scents of vineyards & beer
his green lindens—all of it—takes me back, a little,

even though I know better than to get nostalgic,
to those early years in Cortland, the smell of apples
like a sweet red fog all over town when the orchards

bloomed each fall. We’d work a day shift at Smith Corona,
lie in the dark fields at night. I can still hear the cars
rushing by on the highway, see the stars overhead,

so many more than I’d ever seen back in Brooklyn.
It all seemed so romantic, the gun in the glove box,
a shoe box stash of acid & speed, a boy whose touch

on a pool cue brought him to my room early mornings,
flush with cash he’d taken off the dumb-bunny freshmen
at the college up the hill. I swear we even played

that scene, tossing bills over ourselves, high & naked,
in my narrow bed. I don’t want to think of our lies,
our petty thieving, how we stitched kangaroo pockets

into the linings of our coats. Or how for weeks we
lived on boosted steaks & candy. I don’t want to think
again of next-door L., how her toddler stared all day

out the window above the crummy bar where she danced,
while she & her junkie lover slept off their latest
derangement. All I ever gave that kid was a wave

of my hand. Still, some days she wants out, that girl I was,
wants them back — her reckless nights & slow, stoned afternoons.
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes

-Susan Eisenberg, via Blackbird



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