Learn the use of unhappiness, recommended
apostolic Proust on his death bed,
and no emotion will go to waste.
It is a tempting feast,
but I shall not be drawn a second time
to her forcing-house of a room
where I showed my hand too soon,
those premature, acid green
wrinkled chestnut fingers, unexplained
along her street. I shall remain
at liberty to interpret
the ambiguous spirit
of her calling from the blue like this,
which alone is happiness,
a prolonged underglass imagining
for the asthmatic in his scentless spring.
from Idols (OUP, 1986), © Stephen Romer 1986, used by permission of the author and Carcanet Press.