Everything in the house shone sun
Streamed the long French windows.
On a cold morning in late July,
Sylvie stood downstairs in the front hall,
Looking at her watch instinctively
Waiting for the chimes of the diningroom clock
To announce the breakfast service 
At their Lake Tahoe summerhome.

Sylvie managed everything.
Her weekend guests stayed months
Eating, sunning, sleeping, talking.
The train for Chicago left Oakland
And Sylvie’s weekend guests and grandfather
Insisted on coming to the station to see her off. 


The days in London flew by quickly.
Another idyllic week passed grey,
Jerome still thinking about weekend guests.
The next week for Sylvie sped by even faster.
Two days in Venice something like a dream.
A night spent makinglove on the train to Austria.
& when Sylvie awoke next morning,
Tousled hair and wide eyes.

The entrance to Istanbul was extraordinary,
Jerome woke Sylvie early  
So she wouldn’t miss a moment.
The telephone rang & they
Settled down to listen to Walter Winchell.
Live from Los Angeles on transistor radio.


The distance from Istanbul to Shanghai
Was more than five thousand miles.
If the trip went splendidly
Jerome estimated arrival
In the vicinity of fourteen days.
So Jerome and Sylvie sat
In a crowded train from Nanking
& Sylvie thought they would never arrive.

A week in Shanghai,
and then Peking.
The weather in Kyoto
grew colder day by day,
until they couldn’t even keep
any milk or water outside.


The letter Sylvie wrote Jerome on ChristmasEve
reached him four weeks later in mid January.
He sat reading it late at night
In his drawing room in London.
Fastforward to Mid-March which found Sylvie
Lying in bed in Singapore,
Thinking of Jerome & shared nights.

Jerome rode back on the train
to Glasgow with grandfather,
and the children, and their nurse,
in three private compartments.
Sylvie heard thump soft crash
In the Singaporese kitchen beneath her room.


The car that once drove
Sylvie and Jerome from the station
Drove up to the orphanage
& two nuns stepped out,
In heavy navy blue habits
With warm black coats
& starched white coifs.
They reversed and left abruptly.

The matter of the orphan did not resolve itself
Quite as easily as Jerome had hoped.
The nuns went everywhere together,
& once they were over the initial shock of it,
All of England cried with them
At the abdication of King Edward VIII.


In the first days back,
Sylvie felt a total stranger
As she walked in the front hall
Of her grandfather’s house.
The butler quietly closed the door,
aware of a ruckus upstairs in the hall.
Sylvie noticed a stack of boxes and trunks
waiting at the foot of the stairs.

Grandfather lingered,
& finally breathed his last.
Sylvie held his hand,
gently kissed his fingers.
The house there
Shrinking moment by moment.


Sylvie at the Hotel Shanghai
Boarded the President Coolidge.
Her reunion with the captain
Was not quite what she had expected.
The captain looked sad after Sylvie left,
Trying to feel some of the same things for her.
But they just weren’t there.
Life at sea changes a man.

The days Sylvie and the crew spent in San Remo
were easy and fun, and Sylvie felt more relaxed
than she had during the last few days in Antibes
with the captain and his wife around.
The reunion was too good to interrupt,
But Jerome insisted on taking the train to London.


Almost a week went by before Sylvie saw Jerome again,
and Sylvie looked worried this time.
Jerome came back to Cairo with lavish messages of love.
The next morning, he was more serious again,
He had qualms about letting Sylvie stay.
While Jerome was dressing the next morning,
Sylvie loaded her cameras and sipped a cup of coffee.
It took three hours to get from Cairo to Port Said by jeep.

The promised fishingboat waited for them there
& Sylvie felt healthier than she had in years even though
The last days of her pregnancy were truly miserable.
It took Jerome another month
to fully recover from his wounds
before he reported to the Home Office again.