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by Cathy Smith Bowers

"In Paris, there is a hospital
and a police station," I read
from the yellowed pages of my journal,
though I had forgotten, or pushed somehow
from memory, that one pathetic entry
scribbled on our seventh day
in the most beautiful city in the world.
But there they are, years later,
those words streaked like snuff
across the page, a stagnant pond
through which her face
now rises, that bright senior
dreaming of graduation, her future
almost close enough to kiss.
And there, too, the face
she later recalled, as she wept,
tugging at the inadequate gown
the nurse insisted she put on.
Face of that young man
who spoke no English, so daring
in his pointed snakeskin shoes
and leather jacket, the dark eyes
and bushy brows that spun her pulsing
amid the colored lights of the discotheque.
And then the white interior of his car,
that room he dragged her screaming to,
strewn with women's lingerie and shoes.
And afterward, the odd, distant keen
of sirens, all night, as she lay there,
still, beside him, staring into the dark,
into the rest of her only life.

Cathy Smith Bowers teaches at Queens College, in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is the author of The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas (1992).

Copyright © 1995 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 1995; The Entry; Volume 275, No. 4; page 102.

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