(as first appeared in POETSONLINE)
I tell the dog to keep an eye
on my snoring gopher
while I silly sally forth –
to market to market – dizzy
with leftover essence of spring
and just Neruda to the nines.
All the vegetables strike me
as potently erotic – especially the bulbous
fennel and curly bits at the bottoms
of leeks – and now this is the
Saturday – once every in four weeks –
when the mattress man is there – and
I smile (and probably stare) recalling
that time in Paris – near la foire du trône –
when you threw me on a mattress in
another street market and kissed me
and there wasn’t a soul among the onlookers
who was not your accomplice –
mine too, actually, although I did blush.
This morning I try not to rush; and I don’t even
mind the folks gathered in fours and blocking
passage, or the oblivious idiots who shop with
their poor smell-addled dogs. Today I love
everybody, determined to find the good
strawberries – the tiny ones – remember?
That first morning in the first hotel
when you snuck out while I showered
to wrest victuals from some vendor,
and you were my plumèd knight
(to whom I’d always surrender)
and all you could drum up were
strawberries – and they were
so ripe they perfumed the
room for two whole days.
That red scent is the one
I want – to wake you with –
The bed’s top notch, but too low –
really botches our old knees to go
from sitting on the edge to standing –
but as I am a box spring
plus a mattress shorter
I can stand on the corner
and look the man straight in the eye
when we kiss goodbye.
Picture it – however old you think we are
we are older than that –
and pretty damn silly, the pair of us.
Married twice each
before this conflagration
and still dumb
as teenage honeymooners.
Been together a year –
and getting sillier by the hour.
Such is love’s power.
surely there are better ways
to spend our hard-earned money
no really – these rates aren’t funny
these pillows are flat as two pancakes
one night in this bed and my back aches
and the food in this clipjoint is crummy
let’s go home now…and play some gin-rummy.
it’s a karyokekinda day
beyond the noise
blaring from stands
and marching bands
and okey dokey
and pirates on stilts
and fun’s fair share
[there’s Annie Oaklies everywhere]
I kissed the djembe man
on the corner
[on the lips, actually]
but I’m too old for swirls of confetti
[in truth, I never was quite ready]
steady as she goes,
I didn’t turn to follow the carnival pulse
towards the esplanade
but nosed into the shade
headed up the hill
to where it’s quiet still
and I do love the way morning light falls in May –
right up to the blue kitchen tile!
It hangs out there ’til fall
then slinks back down the hall
[and the world goes all gray for a while.]
The ivy’s abundant [or is that redundant]
the windows are green all around
and petunia smells sweet
when there’s not too much heat –
all my joy is weighed here – by the pound!
[and my heaven’s right here on the ground.]
Wont be long ’til my life come to its end
but I’ve had innings and I’m not mad
What I’d like though, my loving friend,
is that your strong arms be my launch pad.
Sounds silly, I guess, but I swear it’s true
I want my last glimpse to be of you.
I seem to watch eternally –
through a dozen incarnations now –
a ship at sea off the coast of Spain.
Who would believe it was then
that I first loved you that I last
saw you – Edward – Eduardo –
I cannot say because I do not know
if you were Spanish or English;
you were mine, my only love
that is all that I am sure of –
that and the yellow dress I wore
and my grey shoes with the silver buckles.
I held a long-stemed flower
watching from the cliff as your ship
went down in a hail of orange fire
beautiful yet terrifying – like a sunset
when you hear the wolves howl in the forests.
Five centuries have come and gone
and still I return and always will
return to the hill
and the low stone wall –
always a woman in love with a man
who died half a milenia ago.