our bodies curled in lazy parallel Ss
on the king’s carpet of flowers, under the sun.
Today we might be flowers ourselves,
gold and white and numerous
as the grass. We are pigeons
preening our purple feathers,
strutting to the water two by two.
We’re lovers, and the sky is bluer
than it’s ever been before,
and the city is teeming with stories
that we didn’t write and won’t ever know.
Look—there’s a girl in red tracksuit bottoms
by the water, with a hand full of bread.
The swan arches his neck, looks over
haughtily at the offering she brings.
(Is this the lake that swans came from,
before they flew into fairy tales
and turned into princes?) There’s a woman
in a sea-green sari, rhinestones at the edges.
The baby in her arms reaches out
for the swan and the bread, but she turns away,
whispers tsk-tsk in an unfamiliar tongue.
Let’s pretend we don’t belong.
Pick a language: French, German, ancient Greek—
today you could tell me the toast is burning
and make it sound like a caress.
Or I could murmur my own sweet nothings—
move right down inside the carriage please—
in the sonorous tones of the loudspeaker.
With love on my lips, who would be the wiser?
Not the flowers, burnt orange gold that line the hedges,
nor the green and white branches that lattice the air,
snipping the sky into petals of lilac blue.
Not the swans. They wouldn’t notice.
The girl marvels at the touch
of the swan’s hard beak against her palm.
The baby tugs at the sari’s silken edge
and the mother dangles it playfully, sings
a tune too far away for us to hear,
even if we were listening.