Private as a Room: A Poem

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the midst of a swirl of karmic kindness, I have returned to a novel I left standing last April, this one for adults.  Once this novel told the story a poet, and poems advanced the plot. 

If a poet now no longer stands at the center of the book, her poems (which I suppose are my poems) remain.  Here is one.

Private as a Room

You dream a silver fish big as a truck
on a highway, any highway, this could be Mexico,
this could be Guatemala, nevertheless
and regardless, it’s a damned big fish.  You dream
the fish floating but upright, not exerting its gills,
not attempting to fly, eyes the color of pennies
and wide, and the highway you dream is
not a highway but a river in reversals,
running the wrong way toward the sky.

You tell me this in the morning, in winter, by the window
where the sun slides in between the branches of
the red bird’s tree, and you might as well
be speaking of the Apian Way, or the color white
in Mykonos, or that pool of light you photographed
in the cathedral instead of the instructions
of the priest.  For you had seen this fish, and it was
silver as a truck and big, coins for its eyes,
that cauterized quality of dignity, and you said
you thought you dreamed:  This is my gift to you —

this fish, that river, their sky,
in the same way you once said,
Marry me on Samson Street, in winter. 
It was cold then, too, I remember, and the road
was a thick slick of ice and the street
was as private as a room, and there was
nothing in your hands but my hand,
nothing in our pockets but time.
And yes, I’ll marry you.

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