cole heinowitz

 

THE MAUVAIS GONDOLIER

 

 

As we sat in Central Park

you turned my head to see

what I’d already heard.

It was the mauvais gondolier

and his baritone rang

through the trees from across

the pond. Melancholy, yes.

Even manful—but oh,

there was no life in the man!

Touch me again so I forget

the terrible gondolier

on this rock, throw my arms

round your neck as Italian trumpets,

airplanes buzz in my ears and I can’t

hear his poignant return.

 

The mauvais gondolier wears

a red and white striped shirt

and a flopping black bow

on his yellow straw hat.

But the world I lived in was

dreaming you gathered my hair

in your hands. We were happy, afloat

on the water. Your kiss was loud,

but only I heard it. Everyone else

go home! the bees buzzed, and

the obese rowers and children

in life vests blinked when you

saw your own face in my eyes,

the hive beautiful or in love

as it moves to feed.

 

I miss their presence now

they’ve kissed and left and a

drug dealer stands in the sheer, moist

arbor. Come join us, you called

with my head on your chest,

your hand lightly grazing my cheek.

A cardinal in the bay leaves

that looked like bamboo

was gone when I turned but

the gondolier sang on, just to say

he was numb to the pain of it all.

Your hands reach my waist, I

remember this place as rowboats

float over green water

and never a gondolier’s sigh.