V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Too many names to remember:
Garrucha, or was it Pavlov,
who made me salivate just by thinking
of me?  I hold the lowest leaves

of the banana tree in my left hand.
I tousle your hair with the other.
The sounds of the jungle
encroach, ride up our spines

in the night’s early air.  If you’re out
of green, the blue will do—blue fronds,
blue sand, and a halo of blue flame
around my waist.  There is nothing

quite as lovely as a trapped wasp,
the window pane a warm beckoning.
But it isn’t to be.  The clincher:
old growth and mustard seeds, things

we hand down, but what if your
descendents die before you?
They stagger up the cellar stairs
in muttonchops and ringlets,

linen and wool.  Wouldn’t know
a keyboard from a microwave
from a radio from a Buick.
Most nights, the tapping dies away

after a while.  Most nights,
your offspring and their offspring
content themselves playing whist
or considering how shameful

the movements of the waltz.
There are tasks to occupy them:
emptying the commode, banking
the night’s fire. Already

their rapping on the cellar door
is muffled, half-hearted.  Their plans
for the future almost never include you.
Do not forget: spring has heated the wasps

to a manageable warmth, so they march
on their glass fields, devising.
Mondays, the milk truck chirps backwards
into the driveway.  Mornings, it may still

decide to rain.  It’s possible this is all
a movie set.  What if the only way
to ensure your traits is to take by force
things not meant for you?  Will you dive

into those waters?  Will you peel
the beautiful rind from that fruit?
And afterward, will you sometimes wish
you could paint yourself back into the garden?

© by Margot Schilpp


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