To Wendy from the Crow’s Nest
My Dear —
If not from dream, before dawn,
When the rain has not perished over the house,
And you have sworn off four nights of sleep,
And I have wrestled with a mind of airplanes and birth,
And to know that you are leaving again in the morning,
With me staying — or is it the other way around,
Me leaving, and you staying, or both of us
Boarding another flight to a strange city?
— And always, too, both of us wondering
If any of this exists,
sleep, skies, birth,
Mumbling in the frontiers of hotel rooms,
Hauling our slender passports.
Plus: Speaking in forgotten tongues
Made up from the peasant poems of the Jews
And the soft-feathered hymns of the Cherokee.
And you so happy when we strolled through
The Dixie Classic Fair that autumn day
in Forsyth County, North Carolina,
Because the caramel apples were made by hand
And the tender pigs raced so hard
Around the swine track for their cookie,
And the blue ribbon chestnuts and sunflower seeds
Lay in their trays like hearts,
And the ladies from First Baptist
serving fried tomatoes
Whispered to us
That we must avoid the brownies but it’s OK
To eat the sweet potato pie,
And then, all day, not one Carolinian
Stopped us to talk about the trophies of eternity.
But, remember, all of this does exist —
Including the windy Moravian spires
And the dazzling bright Sunday hats,
Including the creeping lawns trimmed out to the roads,
Including the Avenue of the Arts
unzipping after dark
With its four-colored roosters
And fried chicken on Trade Street
And secret marriages
And the bronze whiskey at Finnegan’s Pub
Brought over by svelte girls with shaved heads —
And the two of us exhausted with drink
and, finally, quiet,
So quiet, as if we could hear clarity
Bobble up from the bottom of the earth, so quiet,
Lushly quiet, leaf-by-murmuring-leaf quiet,
And now home,
Home in our own room, a nest
Above the garden’s light, and waking.
David Biespiel is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Book of Men and Women. His next book, Charming Gardeners, is due out later this year.
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