"The Province--of the Saved--
Should be the Art--to Save."
Standing near the exit ramp in a periwinkle blouse
wide as a window curtain, waist pinched tight, she held a sign
beneath eyes the hue of iris--each turned its own direction--
"Travelling and broke. God bless."
I almost passed her there
swathed in my teacup tempests, the Belle of Amherst pristine
on my mind. Her face was smooth as motion,
her skin a polished sorrow. She spoke in Creole voices,
looked at me with double bias--nodding, murmuring
into a wind of passing cars; I recalled how Emily
had dressed her own life white--not periwinkle--and the song
of matrimony offered to her Amherst trinity,
how once I'd favored white when no world could stain or soil it,
while the woman talked bus passes and humid August heat,
then parted on a note that seemed too little, much too late
for me. I realized I hadn't even asked her name,
but felt--surely somewhere in her life--that name was Holly,
and felt that surely Holly could have cherished it that way.
My eyes were never iris; they move the same direction,
so I wonder, Holly--do yours focus when you dream?
Did they ever sweep a measure by that Amherst bride at prayer,
who, by locking it away in white, acquitted us a province?
Has any man once said those eyes grow iris when they gleam?
If not, I'd drive you miles now--stained miles--without speaking,
and recall the Belle.
I almost passed you there.