Waiting in the Dentist’s Chair . . .

Waiting in the Dentist’s Chair,
Watching the Slide Show

The girl had a pixie’s face
Sparkling blue eyes
A fairy dusting of freckles
And a big, gap-toothed grin
Like a row of druidic standing stones

I could have kissed her

That was “before”

“After” showed the same face, same pose, same grin

The freckles seemed faded
And the eyes looked older
The only sparkle was
From the perfectly manufactured smile

I would have missed her

In any crowd
On any street
In America


It was not the season for tourism. We arrived in Paris by overnight train from Barcelona, entering the City of Lights via the shabby Gare de Paris-Austerlitz. Mounds of pigeon feathers lined the halls like drifts of gray snow burying stained paper cups and sandwich wrappers. My companion was ill, and he spoke no French, so at the Buffet de la Gare I must make do for us both. The middle-aged waiter had no patience for foreigners. The menu bore only six items: I ordered deux croque-monsieur et deux café; the prix service was fixed at fifteen percent. Afterward we walked to our hotel, wheeling our luggage along the damp streets, through patches of fallen leaves. The elevator cage was out of service. We carried our bags up two flights of cracked marble steps to a small room, where one must sit on the bed for the other to enter the toilet. We were in Paris.

—Lester Smith, 13 November 2008



I’m startled to awake—at my gray age,
and listless from the labors of my years—
unsettled by a dream, in youthful tears
for an old love, the one who slipped away,
while she who sleeps beside me holds me here
in solace of the history we share.

Sleep deeply, Eve. I’ll marvel while I may
the grip of ardent passion I had feared
forgotten. And imagine (if I dare),
that somewhere, Lilith also lies awake.

—Lester Smith