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by Ed Bennett

Things are different now.
The new airport is brighter
and a generation larger
than my memory of Orly

when the war became rabid,
but not for me,
a soldier in mufti
far from the jungle,
a Galoise self consciously
held to the pretense
of my dry lips.

I had the luck of Europe
because the prescient Army
divined some unperceived skill,
assigned me to the mission
of shuffled papers
and nine to five days

met you in the neon
of an Elysee evening
that never heard the hum
of distant aircraft closing
or the smack of lead
in nearby flesh.

You never forgave me
for my guilt at the comfort,
so you said,
drawn tense in a lover’s anger
when my request was approved,
my orders to join the world
with the name you could not say
except in a whispered hiss:

And I am here again,
passing through for an hour
before I emplane
for a medieval Italian city.

The buildings are new,
the planes swifter,
but not for the ghost
of an old lover,
the last before the world broke
and my ideals bled out
in the death paradise,
as you predicted.

Au revoir, again and always,
across the chasm
where I am still in mufti
and old enough to comprehend.


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