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Giacomo Puccini
B. 12.22.1858 Lucca, Italy / D. 11.29.1924 Brussels
Throat Cancer

I have the strangest
this is true by the way
thing—a phantom lover
who first took my hand in hers on the Coney Island boardwalk this past spring
on a Sunday—possibly the time I was listening to Tosca
walking home from the F train after church in the sun.

The way it works
I’ve learned
is that when you’ve got a phantom lover
you are beloved—there’s no doubt about this which makes you feel like a person of stature and valor whose soul is all delighted modesty
in other words blessed—not only which but you love in return
the bemusing presence by your side, the sun-worshippers’ brassieres, the tiny dogs, the men.

Maybe two other times on the boardwalk, once on the beach, last night on a downtown bus
I’m noticing a pattern
to church, that once on the way to communion—my phantom lover
chooses her own moments—except the time I wanted you to meet me at the intersection by my job and you did
I confess you if it keeps you near—if only to maintain this sudden and mysterious ability
to walk along unbothered, unrecoiling from another’s freely given touch.

Consolation Site: Audiences everywhere

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