Flying Through the City

Blue embroidery angelI went yesterday to the campus, or since this is Penn State, maybe that should be The Campus, where I went to some of the agriculture buildings to look for individual departments. If you know nothing, like I do, then you might imagine, as I did, that the College of Agriculture would have only one department, the Department of Growing Stuff. It turns out they have many more.

My purpose there yesterday, and today, and tomorrow, was and will be to find the individual departments, to put a flyer into the mailbox of all the professors, advertising that I can edit their writing. It is possible, I’ve learned, to be (as one example) a very good food scientist but a little weak on some aspects of writing. So far I’ve distributed between 200 and 300 flyers, and I can see that for the university as a whole, it will be many hundreds more. And we’ll see what comes of it.

My point, however, is that while on campus yesterday I saw both yellow and purple flowers blooming. Very pretty. In February. In Atlanta, where I lived for 10 years, that’s normal, though not here. While I was living in Atlanta, way down yonder at the bottom of the country, I wrote a poem that I continue to be fond of. The poem lies below this paragraph, way down yonder at the bottom of the page.

Embroidery at Night

When on a night like this
Mama Rosa sits in the kitchen with the fan whirring
eating cold plums by the light of the fridge,
resting her tired feet
and thinking about her son’s wedding in two weeks;

When on a night like this
Julie stands dreaming on a concrete balcony
in the warm autumn air,
thinking about love and kisses and thrilling secrets
and whether to get her hair cut
or just to curl it;

When on a night like this
Christine drives a police car slowly down Buford Highway,
talking about her mysterious husband
wanting to divorce her
then move to Paris and paint,
while her partner watches the jewels of city lights in the distance;

When on a night like this
Sammy plays pool downtown with Prince on the speakers,
takes a drink of warm beer,
makes a shot and another and another,
laughs and drinks more beer
and acts like he’s the prince himself;

When on a night like this
Tanya, who once taught literature with shining eyes in Kharkov,
is putting her two daughters to bed
telling them about Vanya the Fool,
only they want to hear about Snow White in English;

When on a night like this
you’re probably on the couch watching TV after supper,
working on the embroidery your grandmother taught you,
rubbing your cat with your feet
and drawing out an angel in the cloth;

Then on a night like this
I want to tell Mama Rosa
to eat all the plums she wants
because life is short—
I want to tell Julie
to ignore pain and fear
and to rush headlong into love—
I want to tell Christine in the police car
that no suffering can be so great
it can’t pass—
I want to tell Sammy
to have another beer
and what a great shot he made—
I want to tell Tanya
that English is a fine language
and at least her girls are healthy and happy—
and I want to tell you
that your angel
is made with an angel’s hands.


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Filed under Not Real Poetry

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