The Architect and the Exotic Dancer
  • The architect who lives next door
    is always awake — or so it seems to her: awake
    and always working. He lives on the second floor.
    He’s a first-rate artist, who draws mostly for the sake
    of his architectural drafting.
    She sees him crafting
    and sculpting models of clay
    and drawing on grid-paper and charts.

    He has a certain way
    of moving: calm but quick.

    One by one, as her parts
    come home through the predawn dark, sometimes half sick
    on parties and munch-fests,
    she — a former pencil artist who was once serious and who understands art
    and who still sometimes aspires, though less-and-less —
    she sometimes stops and watches him while he’s working.
    She is not hidden.
    She is not lurking.
    She stops unbidden.

    She stops because
    there’s something in his solitary pursuit,
    the focus in his face, something here she loves,
    something in his night-after-night work that strikes at her root,
    something which, after all the alcohol and the cocaine
    nights, her body and brain
    glutted with the flesh
    and lust and what the next day she often thinks is a bad betrayal
    of her sacred human house that has never been weak or frail —
    her body encased in chains of mesh
    like mail —
    something here that heartens and inspires
    her while watching him in his land of singleminded labor and wonder:
    something true, something she admires.

    He works so hard, and she likes that.
    His work fulfills. His passion is like thunder.
    He is tall and slim,
    not handsome or the opposite. He moves like a cat.
    She thinks his name is Tim, or Jim.
    And though they’ve never met, he once double-took her through the window
    while she gazed at him in his work. His eyes were alive and bright.
    He smiled and lifted his chin slightly in a gesture of hello,
    his lips pursed as if he would murmur,
    and then he nodded to her