Tucked among books, look, a long-ago letter,
long ago lost, thanks me for poems – for one
especially in which she’s named. I remember
saying goodbye at Regensberg. We’d eaten
a meal of meatballs and sauerkraut with beer
while snowflakes drifted and the Danube swirled
through ancient arches. She’d said she was pregnant,
her boyfriend gone, while those clever eyes told me
she wanted what I wanted, and quite as much.
In a movie your hero doesn’t wonder,
‘What about Amsterdam / my hotel / my meeting?’
And ‘Could today’s ticket be used tomorrow?’
I asked myself these questions. Sadly we kissed
and I boarded the train. The letter tells me
the baby was a girl, her name, Eva.
I should have stayed a while, found us a finer
place to dine, bought her a silver knife to slice
open the marvellous letters I might write.
Eva must be thirty now. I imagine
her saying goodbye on a station platform
to the ghost of a poet. I say to him, ‘Friend,
fuck Amsterdam and don’t think of home, just think
of Eva, and pleasure. Tell yourself virtue
will starve you of stories, and life’s a movie.’