30.4.13

Sidewalk Poetry #35

A Swarm of Dawns, A Flock of Restless Noons


There's a lot to be written in the Book of Errors.
The elderly redactor is blind, for all practical purposes,

He has no imagination, and field mice have gnawed away
His source text for their nesting. I loved you first, I think,

When you stood in the kitchen sunlight and the laszy motes
Of summer dust while I sliced a nectarine for Moroccan salad

And the seven league boots of your private grief. Maybe
The syntax is a little haywire there. Left to itself,

Wire must act like Paul Klee with a pencil. Hay
is the Old English word for strike. You strike down

Grass, I guess, when it is moan. Mown. The field mice
Devasted the monastery garden. Maybe because it was summer

And the dusks were full of marsh hawks and the nights were soft
With owls, they couldn't leave the herbs alone: gnawing the roots

Of rosemary, nibbling at sage and oregano and lemon thyme.
it's too bad eglantine isn't an herb, because it's a word

I'd like to use here. Her coloring was a hybrid
Of rubbed amber and the little flare of down rose in the kernel

Of an almond. It's a wonder to me that I have fingertips.
The knife was very sharp. The scented rose-orange moons,

Quarter moons, of fruit fell to the cutting baord
So neatly it was as if two people lived in separate cities

And walked to their respective bakeries in the rain. Her bakery
Smelled better than his. The sour cloud of yeast from sourdough

Hung in the air like the odor of creation. They both bought
Sliced loaves, they both walked home, they both tripped

In the entry to their separate kitchens, and the spilled slices
Made the exact same pattern on the floor. The nectarines

Smelled like the Book of Luck. There was a little fog
Off the bay at sundown in which the waning moon swam laps.

The Miwoks called it the Moon of the Only Credit Card.
I would have given my fingertips to touch your cheekbone,

And I did. The night the old monk knocked off early. He was making it
All up anyway, and he'd had a bit of raisin wine at vespers.

[Robert Haas, 2002.]

[Sidewalk café in Berkeley, CA.]

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