EMILE ZOLA IN A PHOTOGRAPH WITH
HIS MISTRESS, JEANNE CIRCA 1900

Gentlewoman
   Who knows better than I? Justice
       does not rule our lives or the tender

weight of any dream.
   At the theatre the zinc candelabrum
       imitate the Florentine bronze —

a green deceit.
   Act III: The murderer goes free to kill
       again and again. The sweetness

on the old prostitute’s lips
   is not love but hunger’s unforgiving
       touch, a sugary paste she steals

off the café’s plates
   as the Fat Man carries her away
       into the boulevard’s shadow.

Every life
   feeds on itself. The serpent is wise
       devouring the head first — a bright

narcotic.
   Or does the soul dream? White fragments
       of the whole being reefed

in uncertainty,
   distrustful of strangers. But do not tell me
       the moon’s pale fire

through the curtains
   is any less than the white
       hats of the bourgeoisie bobbing
                                    
like sun-bleached flowers
   along the Rue de Clichy. Precise
       measurements make a still

life. A pose. A boat.
   A mere reflection in the current
      watching our children

feed the swans
   on the lower lake. Maybe this world
       is more than light, than you

Jeanne
   unbraiding the long silken breaths
       of your hair, than a beggar

breathing warmth
   into the cold nest of his hands.
       Nothing is as ordinary

as it seems.
   In the still lens
       of an imperfect world

joy flows, sorrow
   is motionless, and there are never
       any secrets from the maid.



Brent Pallas
BRENT PALLAS is a freelance craft designer and illustrator living in New York City. His latest work has been or will be in The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Poetry, and The New England Review. This is his first appearance in The Adirondack Review.
The Adirondack Review
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book Award
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The St. Lawrence Book Award