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Notes to One Who Is Far from Here
by David Matthews
Clouds burst apart and spill
at sunset like watercolors
on the edge of the sky
while jazz washes the street
like it's raining burgundy wine,
and a kind of beauty
that takes away your breath
hangs in the air
like your voice in the fog
and for a moment lingers there.
Poems once sang, rejecting
metaphor, embracing an Absolute
composed of triangle and rose.
The poems are more contemplative now.
Perhaps it's a stage of life.
Maybe we've all changed.
Peut-être . . .
In dusk's demi-darkness and twilight mood
there stands a young girl from Peru.
She is lost in a painting
by Chagall or someone like him.
On a long summer evening,
as night grows slowly darker, I imagine
you are with me. We are walking to the theatre
where Children of Paradise plays. You chastise me
for never having learned French, and your voice
with its traces of Spanish tones
makes even English sing
bright and clean as the moon shining on your skin.
See how much I recall! you loved Vallejo the poet,
and told me Gregory Corso had my style!
but Buddenbrooks was difficult to understand fully,
too much high culture –
See, I remember.
Ah, dreams and sticks and paper cups
and dragonflies fluttering in the breeze.
I passed through a night
that was beautiful and still
but I was running too fast
to see what was there.
The fireworks and rockets
exploded in air
and tears fell like leaves in autumn
till they covered the ground at our feet.
Now I am reduced to visioning you
as on a screen in the cinema
seen in a fog of Draculan castles
on Germanic hilltops where lines of poetry
mingle with Marxist slogans
while we dance to the ringing notes of an old guitar.
You and Yannos once told me
you did not think of me as an American.
I liked that.
Now you are in Europe, and I in an America
still foreign to me as any Nepal
or Madagascar of my imagination.
I confess sadly, I wrote you a poem
once, was too foolish
and shy to tell you who it was for
or what about.
So I pen another now
and I'll make it a gift to you
some day when we stumble upon one another
in a Parisian café or upon the rocky coast of Greece
or even the mountains of Nicaragua
You will greet me in French
and I will amaze you by answering
and we will both laugh so hard
the mountains will tremble
(it will be my first laughter in years),
and I will compose a poem
that sings for you
and the wind will blow your hair hanging
darker than night enveloping your face
and the sun will crash into the sea
while towers of the city rise up
like mandolins ascending into the sky.
previously appeared in the anthology Ouroboros
and the chapbook Notes to One Who Is Far from Here.