Traveler, I remember when I first saw this river, how it burned for us.
Here is your birthright, in the box: baby teeth and little white shoes.
All I want is a volume of Escoffier, a schmear of red jam on toast.
Try turning the door knob instead, a small subrogation of reality;
to let summer onto the back porch, to sell lotus in the Metro
as high above eagles tumble in the sky. Their grammar, cumulous.
All this in two bare white rooms, fifth floor, no common language,
no rock salt for the icy walk. And, she said. No elevator.
The best and the most shop for duds with a crisp new sawbuck.
Be careful, the light in the stairwell stays on for ten seconds only.
Our pockets are full of pistachios. Our house was painted red,
so I painted it red again. High above eagles and the angels sortie.
Each morning the master reads an uplifting story about white thighs,
kisses and the fragility of love repeating those porcelain words:
You are the all of it, the everything, the best and the most, cross over.
The room is full of the heady smell of the lotus bought in the Metro.
Help yourself to a ration of roast piglet with baby eggplant.
You used to wait at the mailbox wearing your little white shoes.
Beside the river are the caves painted with red ochre by the ancients.
Yesterday was never sedentary, but a memorable trip, mistake.
Where now, Traveler? Tomorrow is too far to walk, yesterday only
this recollection of pleated tweed skirts, lip gloss and white thighs.
All in all a memorable gig with Mary Baker Eddy, Normans, Mormons,
Thomas Aquinas and my dead Aunt Lulu. Read the book. Buy some paint.
Be ready to paint that house red and red again. The applause fades.
We put on coats and then it’s morning in the garden. We’re back,
eating lamb chops, winding clocks. I wanted the best and the most:
a wig on a windy day, and of course, that tome by Escoffier.
published in Ethos