for Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944)

    Lack-luster      We told them these were our “long, empty
     friends and     hours” and that we’d nap or primp,
acquaintances     but instead we rose to all the trappings
                            and left in a whiff of musk.
                            I coaxed my friend
                            to our bursting floral aisles,
                            our shady map of continents.
                            We found the depths oi the store
                            without them. Tracing icy beads
                            and soothing a feathered edge,
                            we decided—though not out loud—
                            that we could be unfaithful here,
                            carry out a scheme as chilling
                            as espionage and convene with those
                            just minutes known.

    “Almost Florentine,” she said,
    “the lusting after mauves and insignia.”
    Then we caught our admirer at the doorway,
    camouflaging himself,
    holding forth the fray of the city.
    We needed to find a flame
    for his anemic character, since
    it was always Mondayish for him.
    “You be the . . . agent,” she said,
    “I see you in angora
    and a loose, low waist.”
    “He’d think I looked like
    a royal vase,” I said,
    “we can’t look as if we’re nesting.”