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  4. Stowaway by Stanley Moss

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Aging, I am a stowaway in the hold of my being.
Even memory is a finger to my lips.
Once I entered down the center aisle
at the Comédie Française, the Artemis of Ephesus
on my arm, all eyes on her rows of breasts and me.
“Who is this master of her ninety nipples?”
the public whispered.
Now the ocean is my audience,
I see in secret my last secret.


Mid-December, my old felt hat that I could have imagined
myself leaving behind in a restaurant for eternity
blew out into the Atlantic. The damn thing so familiar
I saw myself wearing it even into the deep,
an aging Narcissus, in white foam and northern sunlight,
on my way to becoming a conch. It is like seeing music
this growing from flesh and bone into seashell:
undulating salts become a purple mantle,
and the almost translucent
bivalve of memory and forgetting closes.

Stanley Moss, “Stowaway” from A History of Color: New and Collected Poems. Reprinted with the permission of Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com.
Source: A History of Color: New and Collected Poems (Seven Stories Press, 2003)
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