Treasure Island

Hans Ostrom

(1954 / California)

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

If you’re interested, the mirror
will show a flat, brilliant image
of our lustrous clutter, of much
pale flesh draped in black, of
green bottles, brown bottles, other
mirrors, crystal, lanterns, jewels—
glass and gems someone’s arranged
in a barricade against dawn.

Behind the bar the woman lets
her gaze wander until you name
your pleasure. She wears black
velvet trimmed in lace, a brooch
depended on a black ribbon,
a golden bracelet on her arm.

After you order, your gaze wanders
to the mirror behind her: There
her back looks earnest and endearing.
There also is society—busy,
cramped, posing, political, small.
Your gaze prefers the solitary woman
to the busy, blurry, crowded room.
Nonetheless you take your drink,
and you join the tables. You sit,
sense someone gazing now at your
image in an angled piece of glass.

Submitted: Thursday, November 01, 2007
Edited: Thursday, April 21, 2011

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