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Gary Percesepe

The Woman of Your Dreams

Man Carrying Sofa

The Woman of Your Dreams

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
~ Robert Haas, “Meditation at Lagunitas”

In the dream the cathedral has no doors, windows, or clocks and smells of damp plaster and urine. He sits on the stone floor imagining his wife parted from him in a crowd and wanders through huge houses calling her name. Outside it has stopped raining but the trees continue to drip tears. Years pass and it is evening all afternoon. It was snowing, he realized, and it was going to snow. The last of the swallows darted over the roof tops. The floor cold beneath him. Stoplights at the intersection in front of the church had all changed from red to green, from green to red. The moon was white in a pearly pink sky. It was not their fault that they had met too late for children or that there were a dozen ways to say no in French. Lanterns hung from the tall masts of ships under a canopy of stars. Sailors chanted like a Greek chorus: You will meet the woman of your dreams but from the instant you meet you will never stop thinking of losing her.

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Man Carrying Sofa

She was a train hurtling toward me
from the cold of Canada, friendly but deadly.
She’s no longer around.

I don’t talk to her anymore.
Sometimes I wonder where everyone’s gone to,
why the train doesn’t stop here anymore.

She helped me out of a few jams,
the Canada woman,
but created just as many.

In other words, I loved her.
That was a time when I didn’t give a damn
about anything. She cared about everything

that didn’t concern me & held herself
like she was in a French film
so it was a nice balance.

One night we walked up West 44th Street
she threw me up against a brick wall
took a drag from her cigarette
swung her legs around my waist
arched her back and moaned
covered my mouth with kisses
then turned down Broadway
holding my hand as taxi drivers blew their horns.

Now I’ve gotten used to things
that will not be happening again.
I’m learning how not to talk to her,
how no one wants the clothes of the dead.

This damaged longing, it’s not so bad.
Like having a roomful of furniture inside you
then you stop to rest and eat and climb up for a nap.

Like a note slipped under your door
you’d have been better off to ignore her
but the lamp in the room that you carry

burns bright without a bulb, and we lose
ourselves in others, even as
the light divides us.

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Gary Percesepe is the author of eleven books, including Moratorium: Collected Stories, named by Kirkus Review one of the top 100 Indie books of 2022.  Excerpts from his memoir-in-progress have been published recently in The Sun Magazine. He teaches philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx.

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