by Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver

That painting next to the brocaded drapery
is a Delacroix. This is called a divan
not a davenport: this item is a settee.
Notice the ornate legs.
Put on your tarboosh. Smell the burnt cork
under your eyes. Adjust your tunic, so.
Now the red cummerbund and Paris; April 1934.
A black Citröen waits at the curb.
The street lamps are lit.
Give the driver the address, but tell him
not to hurry, that you have all night.
When you get there, drink, make love,
do the shimmy and the beguine.
And when the sun comes up over the Quarter
next morning and that pretty woman
you've had and had all night
now wants to go home with you,
be tender with her, don't do anything
you'll be sorry for later. Bring her home
with you in the Citröen, let her sleep
in a proper bed. Let her
fall in love with you and you
with her and then... something: alcohol,
a problem with alcohol, always alcohol-
what you've really done
and to someone else, the one
you meant to love from the start.

It's afternoon, August, sun striking
the hood of a dusty Ford
parked on your drivevway in San Jose.
In the front seat a woman
who is covering her eyes and listening
to an old song on the radio.
You stand in the doorway and watch.

Last updated March 18, 2023