Laundry so near the ocean bothered Frank.
The lack of medicine on the shelves
       also confused his emotional stance.

       A moth fluttered against his leg.
A gust of wind made his Pepsi keen
       as its foam trickled down inside.

       A banana boat on a horizon otherwise blank
passed over a time-piece buried in valves
       over which sea-growths stirred. Grant’s

       Tomb. Cleopatra’s Needle. The Hague.
He flipped the pages of the travel magazine
       and wondered if Monsieur had lied.

       Tomorrow, he’d go to the bank,
shop for some unguents and skin salves,
       and finish the Castles’ book on the dance.

       The Hesitation Waltz! How vague
the past seemed: static scene after static scene.
       He watched the retreating tide

       and patted his belly. The sun sank.
Monsieur and J. were off by themselves.
       He took off his pants.

       He was too proud to beg.
He lay down and thought of Jean.
       The sheet had dried.

Poems by Kenward Elmslie are used by permission of The Estate of Kenward Elmslie.