Once upon a time on an outskirts bus to center Paris,
I found her rapt in a magazine. She shared with me
a photo: a wooden sculpture, an Afghan treasure,
once stolen, carried place to place,
a beautiful river goddess – flowing skirt, tight waist —
(a noticeable backside crease).
She spoke in slow French, for me, how the stolen treasure
exposed a new opening into Asian mystery.
A perfect piece, 1st century, recovered
intact in a sunken ship off Indonesia.
Ambling along the Seine, she also shared regrets
— her boyfriend killed in war’s affairs.
To make it short, I blurted out, “Je voudrais te baiser,”
meaning ‘to kiss’ her, but the word I used – I learned,
translates to fuck. She corrected my French — laughing
later in my concierge-guarded hotel room.
Maybe it was because when goodbyes came,
and she whispered, Ne m’oublier pas, that I remember
the hunger hard in her taut curves, her stirring
deep as wreckage. The stuff of fairy tales,
when treasure lost then found, rises to the surface.
McLeod Rivera has four collections of poems: Café Select (Poet’s Choice Publisher, 2016); Noise (Broadkill River Press, December 2015); The Living Clock (Finishing Line Press, 2013); and Buried in the Mind’s Backyard (Brickhouse Books, Inc. 2011). Rivera’s poems have been published in various poetry magazines: Innisfree, Broadkill River Review, The Broome Review, California Quarterly,Gargoyle, Recursive Angel, The Curator Magazine, Third Wednesday, Lit Undressed, Blazevox, 2River Review, Loch Raven, as well as The Nation, Kenyon Review and The Prairie SChonner.