He said he’d always remember
my eyes, that glint of gold
within their loam brown irises.
He whispered this as his fingers
slid, unhurried, up the nape
of my neck and around to my lips,
as if each whorl of his fingertips
were meant to memorize every
portion of my skin, its softness
and its solidity. Leaning in to me,
he took in one extended breath
and sighed how here were bouquets
redolent of eden’s sweetness.
(In anticipation of being with him,
I’d dabbed mere drops of Shalimar,
my current favorite perfume,
below my ears and on the back
of the wrists, near my pulse.)
Named after a fragrant garden
in Lahore where Shah Jahan
wooed his Mumtaz Mahal,
Shalimar, Sanskrit for “temple
of love,” is cool citris, iris, rose,
jasmine and warm vanilla, all
aromas from that charming garden
favored by the woman in whose
memory the Taj Mahal was made.
And isn’t that why I’d dappled
my skin with this complex scent?
Not solely to hold his attention now
but to enshrine it within him,
accessible long after he’s slept,
long after he’s dreamt of my eyes.
Each sips a glass of the crisp Sancerre
we bought in a shop around the corner:
we’re relaxing in our fifth-floor hotel room.
I’m looking out over the rooftops
while you expound on how below
this part of Paris there’s a maze
of limestone tunnels, archaic quarries,
sewers, vast catacombs, Roman roads,
and even a hidden river, the Bièvre,
- long polluted by paper mills, tanneries
and the dye-makers for Gobelin tapestry
factories, and now cemented over.
One of your enigmatic smiles slips
across your face as you say to me
in passing that each of us, even cities,
keeps its secrets. Now freshly perceptible,
an almost half moon casts shadows
as the dark smudge of night begins
to hover over the slanting rooftops.
The starlings and other birds
have flown to wherever they go,
unleashing a deceptive stillness
like a pause on the verge of something
full of little doubts yet to be named.
NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN
No, I regret nothing
signature song of Edith Piaf
Let Edith Piaf sing in the dark
corners of your heart, a torch
illuminating only the whispered
promises, long unfulfilled.
Let the gloss of your sorrows,
like a dozen of displaced bees,
articulate the lengthy half-life
of bafflement and anger.
And the myths on your tongue,
the memory of the unanswerable,
or unasked, questions – your quiver
of shrill arrows – let them fall
on the tone-deaf. Like you, time
and again, they aren’t moved
by strains of impassioned melodies
– the canticle of two tangled bodies
late into night or the bel canto
of a woman who no longer waits.
Lenny Lianne is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The ABCs of Memory (ScriptWorks Press). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from George Mason University. She’s a world traveler who calls Peoria, Arizona home.