Lynn Emanuel

Late Elegy for Charlotte
October 22, 2019 Emanuel Lynn

Late Elegy for Charlotte

You were about to sail the Seine.

I said adieu, adieu.
and then

wearing one of six frowns I had invented

I retreated into The Stranger:

It is better to burn than disappear.

The weather was
on fire in Fez,

Camus was dead.


Our 19th summer: the waiter at Le Café Aztec is wearing a hairnet,

his hair black as the Mediterranean
quilted by fishing nets.

We rolled our hair into French knots embalmed in Aqua Net,
donned naughty dresses from Gallerie Lafayette (where

you smirked at the toilet seat protectors for

the cleanest asses in town)

and wore lipstick named Ho Chi Minh Red.


The moon in those days—damp, white, full
as a cut radish.


I was in love with you–Charlotte

girl named for a dessert

that was named for an empress.

From where you are among the dead

whatever became of–


After awhile you get used to anything.

I hauled in the long banners of
the women’s wind blown hair

erased that city –a feverish opal of rain and lamps–
until you were gone.

Adieu, adieu
I wept too much.

Every moon was atrocious.
Every sun was bitter.

Lynn Emanuel is the author of five books of poetry, Hotel Fiesta, The Dig, Then, Suddenly–, Noose and Hook, and, most recently, The Nerve Of It : Poems New and Selected which was awarded the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets.