Lapin au poivre, at your fork’s plunge so lavishly pungent my mouth waters in this West Village restaurant whose tablecloth we’ve already spotted with wine and bits of bread. Long since moved back to native ground, I’m foolhardy with nostalgia on these yearly visits & last night walked late to that spotlit marble arch, despite dealers crooning by the vine-snaked columns, the pursesnatchers & worse. Just like those a decade ago – during lectures on tragedy, my gaze would drift to the windows, & once it was stopped by what might have been a mugging, what might have been a lovers’ quarrel, the unluckier dropping on one knee to clutch a torn heart. Ten years of dinners & I’ve told you this story before, how I didn’t even raise my hand, too unsure of what I’d witnessed, too worried you & the others in that classroom would interpret such alarm as a rube’s hysteria. I’m alarmed now when you push away your glass & meat-spattered plate to take my hand, our fingers mingling until a dropped tray explodes with china: the moment’s repaired with jokes about future embraces made leaning on canes, about how our ringed fingers will be too gnarled to tear each others’ clothes to shreds. How I’ve missed you, & this city, its neon-charged, perilous erotics of flux – ELVIS LIVES, reads a graffitied store grate we pass on Waverly Place, vainly signaling cabs; back at home, Presley-sightings are common, my favorite claimed by a woman who spotted him among extras when The Firm was being shot. I’ll take the King over Tom Cruise any day, she said on the news. Her slackened skin overlaid the face of the high-schooler she’d been forty years before, brain & underwear moist, tears streaking her plump cheeks as she tilted back her throat to yow. Others ripped off bras inky with their phone numbers, shorts with hotel room keys in their pockets, & hurled them toward the spotlit snaking pelvis, the curled swollen lips that crooned versions of a dithyramb always translated as come away, come away with me. Is that why New York is so crowded with throngs of land then stay, who hear those primal chords in the city’s sirens & blaring horns, in the music vibrating downtown clubs before dance-frenzied souls drift homeward, paired at dawn? – what glorious splintering comes when we lose ourselves in another, though sometimes “I love you” sounds dangerous as “your money or your life.” A cab finally slows & farewell tears sting my eyes, although I smile too as the opening phrase of “Hound Dog” crashes through the cab’s window. You ain’t never caught a rabbit – of course Orpheus drove those country housewives mad, dancing & holding that lyre just out of their hungry reach, like your fingers still held an inch from the window; of course they wanted to tear apart the singer, tear him to bloody bits, so he couldn’t leave them alone with the music of their savagely pulsing hearts.