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—June 2020, Lenox, Mass.
Did they think no one could see them?
True, the house itself was closed
due to coronavirus measures,
and while the grounds were open
there was hardly anyone around.
It could have been a hundred years ago,
Wharton herself looking down from the window
of her bedroom with an unobstructed view
into the walled Italian garden below,
where two figures were lying together
on a grassy section of the parterre,
moving strangely. And Henry James,
a frequent guest, strolling the garden
to puzzle through a scene in which
the “action” takes place in the minds
of the characters and everything depends
on the delicacy of what is said
and not said in oblique, tortuous reference
to something that may or may not
have happened offstage, earlier,
might have been startled to glimpse them,
as I was, through an arch in the stone wall,
essentially fucking with their clothes on,
the blue-jeaned ass of the one on top
moving up and down, pelvis cramming
noiselessly into the rump of the one
underneath, whose vacant eye
caught mine for an instant as I walked past,
while the jet of water in the fountain
endlessly sprang up and splashed.
Copyright 2020 Jeffrey Harrison. First published in The Common.
Jeffrey Harrison’s books include Between Lakes.
Photo by Jeffrey Harrison