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“Embrace Them All”

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Parc Georges-Brassens, Paris

Most afternoons, I’d run laps through Parc Brassens   
where grows the second smallest vineyard   

I have ever seen, and where those silver,   
pruned-back stalks looked blunt,   

strung-out on wires, and mostly dead   
all winter. That was how I saw them.   

That’s all I expected. Even in the cold,   
I’d see a guy my age there, once a week,   

playing his guitar. He’d sit next to the bench   
where I’d be stretching. He rarely spoke—   

just to ask if I’d like a song—   
until the week before I left for good.   

I was sitting at the top of a hill   
about a hundred feet away from where   

if you stand tiptoe you can see the Eiffel Tower.   
He sat too close to me. We spoke of many things.   

Then he suggested we go at it right there,   
on the ground, under the sun. This is how   

one lives who knows that she will die:   
rolling in the arms of anyone when she can—   

rolling in the arms of a musician—aware   
that no one cares much what we do

in little knolls behind reedy forsythia,   
in the middle of a Tuesday, in the middle   

of living. And I would know now   
how he felt, and the ground against me,   

and whether he was rough or sweet.   
And what is possible would widen every hour.   

Oh, but me, I thought I was immortal.

Source: Poetry (March 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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“Embrace Them All”

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