Friday, June 25, 2010
We drive all night from Stanford
to his sister’s wedding, with
Old Black Joe the labrador between us,
a tuxedo and a pine tree in the back.
We stop at daybreak on the beach
at Mendocino, where the two of them
(and Joe) rented the house one year—
convalescing and chain-smoking, fighting
the wind and screaming at each other
from the rocks; reading aloud from Poe
long nights and drinking so much gin
from Grandmama’s bone china teacups—
after her lover’s suicide that summer
in an L.A. canyon (selfish to the end,
he took the yellow Fiat with him).
We buy thick coffee, fried potatoes, clams.
In a public beachhouse, wet from swimmers
of the day before, we change clothes for
the wedding; and, still yawning, we emerge
as fresh as laundry into the young day.
As we drive on he tells me of when they and
puppy Joe played football in the street
and cards under the sheets by flashlight;
how he watched, not breathing,
from the curtain shadows, her first kiss.
Juliet in the highschool play—he fell
in love again; Lady Macbeth—he hated her
(“why did you have to do that, anyway?”).
He bought her a purple Italian ice; lost her to
a real Italian with thirty-three hectares of
stony vineyard in Apulia.
He slayed her dragons, fought off indians
from the pine-tree fort, flourishing
his long tin-foil sword; he filled her lap
with streams of colored marble jewels
and stolen roses from next door.
For wedding presents we bring Joe,
Napa champagne, a pine tree in a bucket—
when it grows fine and fat he says
she can lie hidden in its dappled arms,
held there as safe as childhood from
the dragons, indians, phantom lovers.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
That notebook in all likelihood is mine . . . the writer out of sight off in the lefthand window, an espresso just finished, the curl of lemon-peel quietly fragrant and evocative on the saucer, the day of wandering in Venetian byways yet ahead.
image: Florians Cafe, Venice, Jeanne Boleyn
Sunday, June 13, 2010
At twenty-five you wake early, thinking.
You make a pot of strong black coffee,
open wide the back door and look out:
it has been raining, but for now it's clear.
And it will rain again, maybe this afternoon,
but for now the drops, like a fine bracelet
of diamonds, circle
the slender white arm of the birch.
At twenty-five the world doesn’t confuse you
anymore, its many-faceted array of promises
as bright and false as the rhinestones
you gave your mother when you were only six.
The world no longer frightens you—
dark glare of water you could not cross.
You drive into it now headlong, throwing
bright wings of water up to either side.
Now you have plumbed its depths, and
calculated its circumference; and to the inch
you know the worst the world can do.
The coffee is bitter. Close the door, can’t you,
someone says—don’t let all that cold air in.
But you are twenty-five,
and it won’t rain again now for a day or two.
As you hold a finger up to test the wind,
a rusty tigermoth lights on it, in passing.
And, being twenty-five, it is enough for now.