Modesty is the girl
with a smidge of dirt on one cheek
turning down an alley
where the trucks park at lunch.

She smokes out of the side of her mouth
to keep her lipstick
the color of chili, fresh.

Hike them up, old girl,
your soiled pink velour pantalons
with lime-green drawstrings.

Bend down to tie the little bowties, yes,
and check if you are dead.

Tighten them
then rise and stand
on your scorched satin slippers.

Listen to the chorus of drippings
from the last blue rain
in the copper gutters and watery grates.

Walk toward me
as the rose-tinged clouds retreat
from this theatre of bohèmes
going all night
like a set of smashed glasses.

Walk toward me, old girl,
pick it up, find your old mean cat
preparing to swirl
and confuse and brighten
the men scotched to their steins.

Unfurl a dance to rills of liqueur
on mirrors of pavestones.
Run your runway, your fin-de-siècle ballroom
littered with stars.

Come forward, unloved,
slurring rhinestones and vowels
under your mother’s refrains of mon enfant,

mon enfant