Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poem: Moment Variable

Moment Variable

Mile 83 of the strawberry highway,
kin to the welfare of transient
groceries I wonder if
albatross means the same as it
used to, whether Farm Route 47
leads to the vulture-infested
trees of Chowchilla.

O lovadorish Kate,
I would take you to the prom,
I would kiss your left elbow,
I would seduce you in
Swahili and not have you
think it inappropriate.

They always said I was a
mellifluous child.

Outside of my first-grade window,
the sunlight, sky and cloud of
Oak Harbor, Washington gather
an ethereal soup that I
will always think of as X,
a thing so achingly perfect that
to weigh it down with a word of
English would be criminal.

It must have been spring.
Easter must have whispered my name.
The vanilla ridges of the Olympic
Mountains must have been
just out of view.
Melissa Camarind’s braids must have
induced chemical reactions for
which I had no language.

Now, I do.
Every hundredth Wednesday, as the
final feather of acacia gives its
life to gravity, a fragment of
X flutters the air at my
left earlobe and causes me to
whistle a song I learned
on my paper route,
radio taped to my handlebars,
the scent of star jasmine
pulling me into the ivied
labyrinth of the Evergreen Apartments.

I stop at 23B, watch the
underhand flight of the
San Jose Mercury News,
slap of newsprint on cement,
back my way out to find a
slice of orange light, prairiedogging the
Eastern mountains to the sound of
Paul McCartney and Wings.

Cannot go back to X.
Cannot change the roadsigns and
live a blue-penciled life.
The barbed arrow goes into the
skin but not back out.
This is the prison we
entered when we
agreed to be born.

You don’t remember?
No one does.

Had I one more crack at the
contract I would make some demands.

That adolescence would not
swipe its gooey fist over the
rest of my life.
That I would not wait so
long to not care so
much what people thought.
That I would be more reckless,
do many more stupid things,
and for God’s sake have more sex.

That the next time I hear the
frogs of April, creaking like
old doors in my backyard,
I will pay close attention,
mark it on my calendar,
invite my friends for a concert.

From the collection Fields of Satchmo 
Photo by MJV

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