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Lesser Evils

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After a morning of work in separate rooms
she said she was going to the municipal pool
and he said he would walk along the river
for a while before they met back for their lunch
of tomatoes and cheese. But in fact she went
to the lobby of the Hotel du Panthéon
to read the Herald Tribune and drink a cup
ofnthe Irish tea she liked and he to
the little church of St. Médard. A couple
old women in housedresses knelt in the first pews.
He sat in the back, with the drunks or alone.
And at lunch she said terrible, the lanes
were filled with kids from the elementary school
or terrific, I had it to myself. And he said
a barge full of oyster shells. Then quiet sex
with the curtains drawn against the chemistry
students conducting their experiments in the building
across the street. Incremental triumphs
of exactitude and necessity. In the evenings
they liked to fire champagne corks over at the vast
darkened laboratory windows. Imagining the mice
startling in their cages, imagining catastrophe.
Turning back to their tumors with relief.

Source: Poetry (December 2005)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

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Lesser Evils

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