The Girl at the Bank

Separate, removed, behind the glass
Blouse neatly ironed, skirt tight but not
Too much so, the tie tied casually around
Her throat somehow disturbingly sexual,
Her tumbling hair abundant and profuse,
She is astonishingly beautiful, I muse,
As unthinkingly I pass my money
And my paying-in-slip through the grill
Until, with expert hands and the flickering
Fingers of a teller, she adds up  fives and tens,
Neatly packages the notes with rubber bands,
Compares her figures with the paying-in-slip
And then with manner indulgent, yet reprovingly
Severe, lips slightly pursed and smile professional
(Not welcome open door so much as barricade)
Corrects my erroneous totals, ticks my slip
And writes on it ‘paid’, for the bank looks to her
To make us think we are not just meat with wallet
But ‘a valued customer’, passes me my receipt
With a collusive, almost slightly seductive air
(Lights coming and going on the glorious hair,
Something at this moment, I recognize my role,
Of the spy somewhere out there in the cold
Sitting on the park bench meeting his control,
We stare straight ahead expressionless, I murmur
The password ‘gazebo’ ‘haberdashery’ she replies
The package is passed, I depart in tight belted raincoat
Folded newspaper, and hat pulled low above my eyes)
‘Here’s your receipt’ she says ‘guard it well
Sometimes there’s a miscalculation so keep it safe’ –
I notice only now that printed on the identity disk
Attached to her lapel her name is Laura,
Laura! – ‘Somewhere you can find it just in case it – 

Laura naked
Is blown by zephyrs to the shore
Venus upon her shell
While mermaids softly sing.
Radiant and glowing in her loveliness
Her decorum modest, her pudenda shily
Veiled by glorious tumbling coil and tress,
Upon a floor of ivy and myrtle
She steps onto the land
Where Hora already waiting stands
To cloak her in the flowers of spring 

Or in some hidden dappled forest glade
Head bowed, but lips still pursed in secret smile,
In woven chivalric scene of silk brocade

On lawn of tapestried daisy and chamomile
In gorgeous scarlet taffeta gown arrayed
The scented hawthorn sweet with song of nightingale 

As maidens pass and pass in stately dance
While in the embroidered pageant pastoral
From bestiary escaped beasts heraldic prance 

Leopard, unicorn, greyhound, swan and doe
Knights, pennants flying, joust with shield and lance
Troubadours sing canzones with canso and envoi

Until the sovereign of this emblazoned scene armorial
Graciously receives their homage with mien seigneurial
And –

To burst through the tapestry
To touch, if only for a moment,
The allegorized reality 

As Dante having climbed the mount of Purgatory
Beheld at last his dear lady
O Virgilio!  O padre dulcissimo!
Oh Virgil!  Oh sweetest father!  my heart
Is pierced with joy, I shake and shiver, my eyes
Weep scalding tears, my knees have turned to water
Conosco i segni de l’antica fiamma! O Amor!
La gran potenza
of her presence!  I remember how
When I was still a boy but to hear her name
I was scorched and burnt up by the ancient flame
Di sangue m’e rimaso che non tremi
No drop of blood that was not trembling now
Oh heavenly blessing that she gave me!
Oh great feast of life!  How we live twice
Sex still a congruence of beasts but for human beings
A foretaste of paradise, as a morning mist
Is inlaid with sunlight, although the sun is hidden,
But the very air is shining and the earth already warm
So the diaphanous divine so nearly reveals itself
Most sweet and ravishing in human female form
And – 

– in case it gets mislaid’ .  She leans towards me
Confidential, concerned, still collusive, almost sly.

I understand that more is meant. ‘Have you thought’
She says ‘of opening a high interest account with nothing
To pay and return  of six percent?  Not bad I’d say’.
‘I was thinking of that’  I lie.  ‘But there’s a downside.
You can’t withdraw your money for a year’.  ‘Oh dear,
Perhaps I’ll settle for something more ordinary after all.
I don’t think I dare’ .  Oh what a pity’ she replied.
I  retire defeated, crestfallen, somehow reduced, sad, small.
‘Oh well it was worth a try’ she smiles sadly.  ‘Goodbye’.  






















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