Jardin des Plantes, Paris
By Rainer Maria Rilke
(translated by Len Krisak)
In Fragonard-reflections such as these,
one sees no more of true flamingo red
or white than if some messenger had said
about the image of his lover, “She’s
still soft with sleep.” For when they’ve walked green grass,
and stood together, lightly turned on pink
stalks—blooms in flower beds—they seem to think
themselves seductive; that their charms surpass
a Phryne’s . . . till they curl their necks to hide
pale eyes in softness all their own (inside,
there lie concealed both berry-red and black).
Then, through the bird-house: envy’s sudden scream.
But they have stretched the wings that were pinned back,
and stride, alone, into the world of dream.