The Love Scenes, by JOHN ASHBERY


After ten years, my lamp

expired. At first I thought

there wasn’t going to be any more of this.

In the convenience store of spring

I met someone who knew someone I loved

by the dairy case. All ribbons parted

on a veil of musicks,?? wherein

unwitting orangutans gambled for socks,

and the tasseled nemy?? was routed.

Up in one corner a plaid puff of smoke

warned mere pleasures away. We

were getting on famously--like

“houses on fire,” I believe the expression

is. At midterm I received permission

to go down to the city. There,

in shambles and not much else, my love

waited. It was all too blissful not

to take in, a grand purgatorial

romance of kittens in a basket.

And with that we are asked to be pure,

to wash our hands of stones and seashells--

my poster plastered everywhere.

When two people meet, the folds can fall

where they may. Leaves say it’s OK.

From “And the Stars Were Shining” by John Ashbery. (Farrar, Straus, Giroux: $22.) 1994 Reprinted by permission.