On International Business 


She fell in love not just with a city,

but with the idea of cities, as she wandered

foreign streets alone and happy, nothing to do

but stroll and stare after business meetings ended. 

She sat at cafés, drank wine, wandered museums,

regarded the river flowing inevitably.


                                                Though she still turned heads

walking down the street, this too would pass.  Not caring,

she knew she lusted after great cities, their topography

and vastness.  She wanted skyscrapers, subways, hotels,

slums, zigzag of exterior fire escapes seen from a subway

hurtling tunnel to tunnel, glass elevators rocketing upward

over hotel lobbies. 


                                                Alone, she entered

restaurants across Europe, found the caressing eyes

of Dutch waiters and German train conductors’ voices

lovely, but they did not induce the rapture

she was looking for.  It came from subway maps

written in Cyrillic, barges floating down rivers

past  basilicas, going in and out of train stations,

airports, metros, taxis, her passport stamped

again and again, until she became someone else.



                                    --Karen Braucher

                                    from Sending Messages Over Inconceivable Distances (copyright 2000),

                                    first published in the Clark College Poetry Prize Annual



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