Party

You wake up in a leafy street at dusk – it might
be Cambridge, Massachusetts: wide sidewalks,

separated from the street by strips of lawn;
white porches, pastel clapboard mansions

with wooden pillars propping up solid suburbia.
A yellow house pours honey-coloured light

from every window. On a gentle tide of voices,
music, laughter, clinking glasses you wash up

against the Doric columns of the open entrance
and are swept inside. Past the grand staircase

with its sweeping banisters you drift through
rooms with crimson sofas, Tiffany lamps, tight

crowds of people lost in conversation, out
on a balcony where girls in flapper dresses

smoke black Sobranies, and in the library
men drinking rye talk baseball scores.

Notes floating from a grand piano draw you
to a ballroom where a boy in white tuxedo

and a girl in red glide dreamily across the floor,
oblivious to your silent passing. Lured by

a hallway’s chequer board of black and white
you sink into the dark recesses of the house.

The happy din of voices dies away; the grand
piano tinkles to a stop; the muffled sound

of car doors slamming, then the hectic play
of headlights on the walls; and you remain,

a shadow drifting noiselessly from room
to room, turning the lights out one by one.


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