What secret had Nietzsche discovered
when he walked the Turin streets
before he flung his arms around
a horse being beaten and collapsed
into a decade-long coma? Clinging
to the cowering brown beast, he said
Mother, I am stupid. Wild hair and a three-
piece tweed suit
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Waiting Again for Biopsy Results from the Second Floor Exercise Room
I glimpse the tulips every two seconds.
They arrived late this year. Those who planted
The bulbs must not have considered how they
Would look from here—red, paired with pink dogwood.
Seven umbrellas float by; only one
Inverts. Ammonia swathed on the machines
Makes this walk to nowhere less appealing.
A police car patrols the next window
Where a dingy white van remains parked. It
Is difficult to discern if it’s still
Raining. Two bridges (I have crossed neither)
And the asylum for the criminally
Insane loom across the estuary.
An old woman obscured by a plum cloche
Appears to hail a taxi but after
One stops, it’s clear that she is waving to
Children who laugh as they glide past. She turns
And exits my view. I will try to eat
Six green things today and nothing white. A
Flash dance mob and you are as likely to
Appear. My tiny bottle of perfume
Is almost empty. It sits alone, a
Deluxe sample, on the pink tray I bought
Last century in Florence. I don’t know
If I’ll buy a bottle—still unable
To find, at forty, my signature scent.
The postman slumps against the fountain, his
Body the heaviest load that he has
To carry. How much rain would it take for
The fountain to overflow? I wish I
Hadn’t been too self-conscious to learn the
Basics of the Argentine tango in
The three lessons before the wedding in
Thessaloniki. Ever since I read
Bronte, I refuse to use an umbrella
And pretend I’m walking the moors even
In the city. I am never where I
Am. If I told you what I look forward
To, I couldn’t bear your pity. I would
Not do any of this without music.
This room is a drenched rag of desire,
Even when it’s empty. It is not too
Late to learn something new, even with this
Trach scar and three letters in my desk drawer.
Nine dogs saunter past, smelling the sidewalk.
The weather does not seem to bother them.
It is too early to be this dark out.
I don’t want to leave the building today.
Jennifer Franklin is the author of Looming (Elixir Press, 2015). She teaches at The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, is coeditor of Slapering Hol Press, and lives in New York City.