Souvenir

November 25, 2016

(from the Latin sub + venire)

To rise from beneath, the way a snake lifts
its head from under orange leaves,
not like a silver tour Eiffel from a kiosk
sitting on stray bills; the French infinitive
of memory is to come from below
the way fire roars up a pine tree
from silent brush or a fallen owlet walks
back up a giant redwood to its nest,
the infinitive of the verb being
infinite the way the dead live forever
in a dream, and the Winged Lion
of Nineveh is greater than the jack-
hammer trimming its beard, as if breaking
the souvenir could stop the rising up
from beneath, the way the deaths of friends
and enemies would disturb my father’s
sleep long after the image of fighting
slipped away. A plastic bubble with a
snowy Duomo represents the memory
of Florence, but it cannot remember
the ancient geometry of arch construction,
the way Brunelleschi built a dome
too high for support, and the City of Light
is the eternal memory of Bogart
and Bergman, who will always have Paris,
long after Gene Kelly has gone home.