Three Moments in Paris


1. One O'Clock at Night

Though you have never possessed me
I have belonged to you since the beginning of time
And sleepily I sit on your chair beside you
Leaning against your shoulder
And your careless arm across my back gesticulates
As your indisputable male voice      roars
Through my brain and my body
Arguing "Dynamic Decomposition"
Of which I understand nothing
Sleepily
And the only less male voice of your brother pugilist of the intellect
Booms      as it seems to me      so sleepy
Across an interval of a thousand miles
An interim of a thousand years
But you who make more noise than any man in the world when you clear your throat
Deafening      wake me
And I catch the thread of the argument
Immediately assuming my personal mental attitude
And cease to be a woman

Beautiful halfhour of being a mere woman
The animal woman
Understanding nothing of man
But mastery      and the security of imparted physical heat
Indifferent to cerebral gymnastics
Or regarding them as the self-indulgent play of children
Or the thunder of alien gods
But you wake me up
Anyhow      who am I that I should criticize your theories of "Plastic Velocity"
"Let us go home      she is tired      and wants to go to bed."


2. Cafe du Neant

Little tapers lighted      leaning diagonally
Stuck in coffin tables of the Cafe du Neant
Leaning to the breath of baited bodies
Like young poplars fringing the Loire

Eyes that are full of love
And eyes that are full of kohl
Projecting light across the fulsome ambiente
Trailing the rest of the animal behind them
Telling of tales without words
And lies of no consequence
One way or another

The young lovers hermetically buttoned up in black
To black cravat
To the blue powder edge dusting the yellow throat
What color could have been your bodies
When last you put them away

Nostalgic youth
Holding your mistress's pricked finger
In the indifferent flame of the taper
Synthetic symbol of      LIFE
In this factitious chamber of      DEATH
The woman
As usual
Is smiling      as bravely
As it is given to her to be      brave
While the brandy cherries
In winking glasses
Are decomposing
Harmoniously
With the flesh of spectators
And at a given spot

There is one
Who
Having the concentric lighting focussed precisely upon her
Prophetically blossoms in perfect putrefaction
Yet      there are cabs outside the door.


3. Magasins du Louvre

All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass

Long lines of boxes
Of dolls
Propped against banisters
Walls and pillars
Huddled on shelves
And composite babies with arms extended
Hang from the ceiling
Beckoning
Smiling
In a profound silence
Which the shop walker left trailing behind him
When he ambled to the further end of the gallery
To annoy the shop girl

All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass
They alone have the effrontery to
Stare through the human soul
      seeing nothing
Between parted fringes

One cocotte wears a bowler hat and a sham camellia
And one an iridescent boa
For there are two of them
Passing
And the solicitous mouth of one is straight
The other curved to a static smile

They see the dolls
And for a moment their eyes relax
To a flicker of elements unconditionally primeval
And now averted
Seek each other's      surreptitiously
To know if the other has seen
While mine are inextricably entangled with the pattern on the carpet
As eyes are apt to be
In their shame
Having surprised a gesture that is ultimately intimate

All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass.


Mina Loy, The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.