I was reading again and French apples
were on my mind and oranges the way they sold them
in giant carts and how the skin was thick and
loosened from the flesh and how it made an
orange saucer where you placed the sections
after you pulled the threads away, the ugly word
“pith,” it’s called, and raspberries with cream—
and how it would have been if I had stayed
in the same hotel another eight or ten years and
married someone else—it always comes to
that—and taken up another trade,
for as you know what we call nostalgia
is for the life we didn’t live, so much for
homesickness, and I am homesick too for
southern Spain, where I didn’t live, but mostly for
Mogador (where I didn’t live) with the tiny
white streets and blue shutters, one store the
flutes on one side, the drums on the other, the synagogue
smaller than the African Methodist church
on North Governor Street in Iowa City
before they rounded us up, though we had two days,
for we had spies, to tear the linings open
and sew our jewels in and our thousand franc notes,
although we had to leave our heavy furniture
behind, and Libby’s picture, when we boarded
the plane for Paris, more like the camel that took us
to live with the Berbers in the Atlas mountains
twenty-five hundred years ago than not like,
all of whose fault it was that Ezra who preached
the ups and downs; and how the Berbers welcomed us,
and how the French put us in crowded rooms
and made us sit for hours, for they believed in
égalité, so everyone should die of
boredom equally and Vive La France and
Hail to the Eagle and Rah, Miss Liberty,
one of her breasts exposed—I have nostalgia
for your life too, what are you, Mongolian?
Don’t leave the rugs behind, milk the horses!
Are you a Russian? You are great at this.
Light the samovar! I give you my past for
nothing. Here is your number. Line up, my lovers!