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  Ian C Smith
   
     
Strasbourg
 
Reading A. R. Ammons I come
across a reference to Salzburg
so my mind clicks in with Mozart
but at the same time I think of
another city with a name
I always confuse with Salzburg.
I know these places are miles apart
yet both near the German border.
One is in Austria, the other
in eastern France, I do remember,
where I bought a vase in a carpark
shadowed by a cathedral,
from a charming black hustler
who told me to name my own price
when I refused, at first, to buy it.
Because I hardly had any money left
I named an insulting (I thought) figure
that he, a triumph of teeth, accepted,
leaving me almost broke but owning
a vase on a car roof, a vase
I still have, that leaks water,
a vase from a time I love,
but my brain stops at that city’s name.
I just think ‘Salzburg’ knowing
this is wrong.  I know where Salzburg is.
I am not stupid but I am
forgetful, so much so that
I do my alphabet system.
I start with ‘S’ and think ‘Sa’,
‘Sc’, etcetera, hoping to jar my memory.
I am uneasy about Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s, Ammons, Austria.
The vase is ornate, African,
I like to believe.  I could pull out my
drawerful of maps, kept since
those days when I was a traveller
when I could buy a worthless vase
with my last francs, when
I never forgot anything.
There is always that possibility.   



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