For a Woman in Père Lachaise

She’s the only one who seems to know what’s happening.
Otherwise, this group sculpture here at Monument aux Morts —

a number of bone-worn bodies marching towards death,
that door in the middle of a tomb into which some have already stepped —

would seem predictable, corny. The one I love is above me, on the far right
as I stand in front of the monument, a little dizzy in the August heat.

She’s half sitting, or squatting, one knee up, one down,
like a girl at a picnic, but her upper body is torqued backwards,

her right arm flung across her breast, left arm raised, elbow cocked,
fingers to her lips blowing a final kiss as she gazes back at all she is leaving behind.

Hard to tell if she’s beautiful. Time has eaten her features, scraped them down
to abstract jawbone and nose. Her beauty is in her posture, the way

her right hand touches her breast in disbelief, as if to catch her breath
that wants to escape, wants to shape itself into a sudden scream. Her pathos

is in that left hand, fingertips to lips, dismayed at what she knows, just
now, for the fist time, the terrible realization of what is happening,

about which she can do nothing, bound with the others, drawn forward
despite her retrospective gaze. It is her helplessness that appeals,

her brokenness, torn between worlds, love and regret
carved out of the same stone. Yet she leans towards that looming door

as if something in her body has already acquiesced, something
that knows before she does, and thoughtlessly obeys. Her whole self,

facing two directions, until she isn’t there, or anywhere, but there still
for an instant, poised on the last fraction of time she will ever know.

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