And finds he must descend two flights
to reach the urinal. His bladder’s full
soon to spasm from gulped shots
of Three Nines. He’s been wandering
through the Jewish Sheol with his
ex-pat friend who points out
the coded phantasms that surface
on apartment walls and storefronts
and the bearded bust of the stern Gaon,
Talmudic Master whom even the Catholic
peasants feared would expel God
from their kitchens and beds.
Orpheus is reluctant to descend
(and not for reasons you think)
he’s done with rigged dating
games and trials he’ll never win.
But here he is in Vilnius, unasked,
on behalf of his protégé Czeslaw Milosz
to haul the poet’s friends and forebears
back to life, momentarily.
This place is as good as any
to enter, beneath this packed café
where piss does not overpower
the scent of root rot and chanterelles.