A mysterious woman deserted me last night.
But not before I had chased her
Through a fanciful city —
Part modern urban metropolis,
Part post-war, Vienna, Austria,
Hazy hometown for a couple years
During my impressionable youth.
I often find myself there
Tracking down some imagined
Or remembered waif of my dreams.
She rises as our streetcar slows to a stop.
Definitely Vienna now.
"You will be back won't you?" I ask.
"Maybe," she replies,
Her face still averted,
Identity familiar, yet
Still maddeningly vague.
"In the spring,
Or perhaps the following year."
I might have kept her from leaving,
But somehow I got trapped
There, in that tiny landing,
Where the stairs meet the door —
Past the line upon the floor
Beyond which you are not supposed to stand.
A stack of coats had appeared in my arms.
And for some quite important,
But now forgotten, reason
I had to put them all on before
Pushing past the collapsing doors.
Finally free upon the pavement,
I looked around and saw she was
Well and truly gone.
As was the streetcar,
And the street, for that matter.
My breath slowed,
And I turned my pillow,
Seeking that cool side
Which always, somehow, slips away.
I smiled, listening to
My wife breathing quietly
Across the landscape of
sheets and comforters.
"There!" I thought, looking for a spot
To place the final period.
A few more rounds of shadow boxing,
Here just beyond dreamland,
And it may make a decent poem.
It owes me that
Considering the slumber
It has cost me.