You lived here once. City—remember?—
of formerly your own, of the forever beloved,
of the dead,

                for some part of you, this part,
is dead, you have said so, and it is fitting:
a city of monuments, monuments to what is

gone, leaving us with our human need always
to impose on memory a body language, some
shape that holds.

                                I can picture you walking
this canal, this park, this predictably steep
gorge through which predictably runs a river,

in which river, earlier today, I saw stranded
a bent hubcap, spent condoms, a cup by
someone crushed, said enough to, tossed . . .

City in which—what happened? or did not
happen? what chance (of limbs, of spoils)
escaped you?

                      And yet . . . I have sometimes
imagined you nowhere happier than here, in
that time before me.

                                I can even, from what
little you have told me, imagine your first
coming here, trouble ahead but still far.

you innocent—of disappointment, still
clean. In those historical years preceding
the sufferings

                      of Christ, there were cities
whose precincts no one could enter unclean,
be their stains those of murder, defilement