Five o’clock a.m. on a morning last fall, in the Walgreens of an affluent suburb on Chicago’s North Shore, where I have gone to buy batteries for my flashlight…
The warbler’s folded in my tongue
like a lemon drop. What joy
it is to trap a festival inside,
I’ve seen you in souks that spill with people,
On streets that reek of three continents,
Found you filling cut-glass crystal with the scent
Of nine woods and the rose petals of three cities.
We wait at the end of the driveway for the school bus. The hot, bright day I’d imagined as my first day of school looks more like a swamp at dawn.
The teacher did not like the poem,
but seemed unable to say why, his face
seeping dismay or disgust.