Only a few may descend
at one time, so we waited
until the guard finally

urged us down to the roofless
cell, where one small
grated window framed

the Seine, and a passage led
to the “Tomb of the Unknown
Deported”: a thick black

marble slab on either
side of which two
hundred thousand pinpoint

lights burned, one
for each man, woman,
and child remembered there:

Jews, Slavs, Gypsies,
the sick and disabled, and,
the sign outside had said,

les homosexuels, like my son,
five thousand miles
away from me, in rehab

again, further than
he had ever been,
and so I turned to the words

of Desnos (who was himself
deported) etched in the wall
behind me:

I’ve dreamt so much of you, travelled, spoken,
slept so long with your ghost. . . .

Soon I would wander that city

much older than my own,
buy Desnos’s Collected Works, and then,
some sweet dark chocolate for my son.

 

 

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