“The Lost Hotels of Paris” by Jack Gilbert

The Lord gives everything and charges

by taking it back. What a bargain.

Like being young for a while. We are

allowed to visit hearts of women,

to go into their bodies so we feel

no longer alone. We are permitted

romantic love with its bounty and half-life

of two years. It is right to mourn

for the small hotels of Paris that used to be

when we use to be. My mansard looking

down on Notre Dame every morning is gone,

and me listening to the bell at night.

Venice is no more. The best Greek islands

have drowned in acceleration. But it’s the having

not the keeping that is the treasure.

Ginsberge came to my house one afternoon

and said he was giving up poetry

because it told lies, that language distorts.

I agreed, but asked what we have

that gets it right even that much.

We look up at the stars and they are

not there. We see the memory

of when they were, once upon a time.

And that too is more than enough.

– “The Lost Hotels of Paris” by Jack Gilbert

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