only waking dreams, like the cry of a gull
echoing in an alley or the lingering smoke
from a cigarette. Or, an imaginary war
that never occurs in your homeland though
everybody bleeds. The idea of Lisbon
is like that, like listening to someone who says
No, then Yes, each moment changing direction,
swallows darting mid-sky. And it’s summer always
in such a place that can’t exist. You walk
on pavement stones slick with heat, the streets
a school of fish flashing through the city
in every direction. They rise under your feet.
This is the dream part, when the trolley turns the corner
shaking like loose change and the river
opens before you, behind you the hills—a fine
specter, glazed with unerring light.
Saudade, someone might say. Saudade is not
to be alone as I am alone, but to be apart.
Absence is proof of nothing, neither is its phantom pain.
It is a memory stolen from another language
you find you are unable to speak.