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New Poem by Kevin Higgins: On Poyntz

for JulietPoyntz (1886-1937)

You deliver envelopes
you must under no circumstances open
to men whose names you never ask
in hotel lobbies in Baltimore, Copenhagen,
Shanghai… No one you know has seen
you in three years. On a New York street

you happen upon an old friend, you used to
like to disagree with – those
big opinioned, diner nights
you can’t quite forget – talk over
your new found
disgust: the white-walled cells
into which you’ve seen people
you call ‘comrade’ one by one vanish
to be kept awake all night
and confess
under extreme electric light. Over coffee
you are full of
the book you’re planning to write.

Already evening. Earlier today,
at a chateaux in central France,
Edward married Mrs Simpson.  
You leave your room at
353 West 57th Street
to buy The New York Times
or some Lucky Strike
cigarettes. No luggage
nor extra clothes. Behind you,
everything you own.
A solitary candle
still burning.

Buried in the upstate woods
or smuggled aboard a tanker bound for
Archangel, Leningrad, Vladivostok…
You are never heard of again.              
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