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Antique Passions

Letters on brown paper
Wink edges in the back
Of an unimportant drawer
Like guilty secrets
Which refuse to stay
Obediently repressed
Kept out of ego
Valued for what they said of you
More than for any love
Of any she, the other
Who wrote them down
Cinders from the time
When you could build
A bonfire of their yearnings
Casually as striking up a match
Striking up a conversation
Then moving on
When women could believe
Such things of you
When they could see you
As you wished to see yourself
Passions grown antique
Patined with regret
That sin of omission
The remembrance of neglected joy
Precious and untenable
Like a large, clear
Brilliant jewel with one deep flaw
Which leaves it both
More beautiful
And more pitiful
When they are gone
Leaving these few desiccated leaves
The ashes of their brief, swift burning
Clutched to your shivered heart
You will remember joy.

© 1996 Caron Andregg