Posted From Tavistock Square

Yes, I remember when you were in London:
you were here with your husband,
leaving me, your bad-girl lover, twenty
years younger (than you, than now)
to stay put in my unmonied place,
to read Kerouac’s travels across the States.

Yes, it was true, you always compared us
to Vita and Virginia (but who
was who? I never asked; I thought
I knew). We wrote long letters with passionate
assessments of poems, of stories, of novels; of our own letters.
You never said you’d leave him; I never asked you to.

No, I’ve forgotten what you brought me:
I’m certain only that I no longer have it.
Some trinket, but it wasn’t from Bloomsbury;
it wasn’t literary or even sexy.
Something suitable for a friend of your daughter’s–
Is that what you pretended? To him? To you?

Yes, you did send me a postcard. Perhaps even two.
One was of Sissinghurst. You wrote that the gardens
were beautiful, which any fool would know
from the glossy image you chose. I imagined that you
imagined you lived there. And when he was gone,
you would invite me for a fortnight or two.

Now I am here in this country, this kingdom, this city.
I find it evocative, but shabby and fusty.
And you, my long-ago lover, my lingering correspondent, are home in the the States, specifically a
state I won’t mention. Divorced,
divorced, but still married, somehow,
and no longer writing with length or with passion.

So, I am sending you a postcard, telling you
about the weather, about the lecture
I am here to deliver, but not about the worrisome
connections that persist between Mrs. Dalloway and
On the Road and Joan of Arc and a poem I never wrote, about you–
about you and your husband, making love in London.

From Masks