- Writers Retreat
- Writers in School
- OUR SUPPORTERS
This week, two poems from Richie Hofmann’s Second Empire, just published by Alice James Books.
AT THE PALAIS GARNIER
We always arrived late,
sometimes in masks. You wore a sword
at your side. The heads that watched
our little pageant were busts of the great composers
and not men lined up for the executions.
The style was Second Empire,
but the Empire had already fallen
by the time the façade was finished.
The casts changed seasonally
like our lovers. I remember,
through black lace fans, Hänsel & Gretl
eating a garish cake in the darkness.
We covered our mouths
when we laughed at the children trapped
in the house of sweets. We ate cake at intermission
in order to stay awake.
Once nothing separated us but the gossamer
of sheets—white and gauzy in the summer, when a world
of heat blew in, inflating
the curtains into the room that was his
and mine, when no one else was there—
nothing between the body, whose hot-bloodedness,
whose frailty I had come to know
the duration of my life,
and the body
he drank cool water with, the body he salted, mile after mile
along the coast, fucked me with, with which
he told me what troubled him
—the two of us in our bed
of Egyptian cotton.
The sea reflected us, our human emotions.
Then the sea refused us, like the sea.
RICHIE HOFMANN is the author of Second Empire (Alice James Books, 2015), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award. He is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, and his poems appear in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Yale Review, Kenyon Review, and Poetry.