The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Michele Wolf
Arranging the Books
The shelves start out with Ai, move on to the coral
Spine of Miss Bishop. In my new home, in a new city, I rip
Open my next carton and stop. I have somehow misplaced
Mr. Merwin before Mr. Merrill, which has to be fixed.
I am again at Scribner's, a bastion—with its Beaux Arts bookstore,
Frilled with curly cast iron and gilt—at this site on Fifth since
Engines edged out hoofbeats on the avenue. I had just been
Promoted from editorial assistant to associate editor. The rooms
Displayed the relics of their ghosts: a bust of Hemingway,
The lectern of Max Perkins—who elected to stand, as if addressing
His authors, to edit. The wood-walled library featured fringed
Lampshades; reception, a scuffed and tack-studded tobacco-brown
Leather couch. Young Charlie, newly ensconced in the coveted
Corner Perkins office, brought in a piano, serenaded Scottie
Fitzgerald as my colleagues and I rolled our eyes, pretended to work.
Soon Atheneum arrived, a doomed move to keep the two companies
Private. On weeknights I raced off to readings, attempted to write,
Paged through my textbooks—stacks of jacketed works by Atheneum
Poets: the pedestaled Justice, Levine, Merrill, Merwin, and Strand.
Now, two and some decades later, I have divorced New York.
My soul mate, it understands and forgives me. We are on
Booth at the local diner, or the all-night neon of 86th Street,
But I did get to take the books, to keep their voices, vital, intact.
I have Mr. Merrill, diminutive, regal at the podium, infinitely
Wry, regaling the audience—gasping with laughter—with a vision
Of an uncapped lipstick and a randy, panting Labrador, 1935.
I have Mr. Merwin, rumpled, just in from Hawaii, surrounded
By five writers summoned to a table at the 92nd Street Y,
Focused on his eyes, a crystal blue like captured starlight,
On the crux of his message, the sound and essence of his life:
"We don't write poems," he maintained. "We listen for them."
Cherry Blossom Festival
It was frothy. It was silken.
It was icy on the tongue—fresh coconut
Milk, fresh pineapple juice, and the Appleton's.
We sipped one apiece on the terrace overlooking
The peaked gazebo cresting the dock, and the glinty
Turquoise waters of our crescent beach, while a big-eyed
Doctor bird—a shimmering long-tailed hummingbird—
Hovered like a miniature copter in front of a blood-red
Hibiscus. When we rocked in the hammock,
The only sound we could hear was the breeze
Fanning the palm fronds. In the pool, on a pair of rafts,
As we closed our eyes in the late-day sun, the whole of our
World turned turquoise, hoisting us, floating us along.
We never drifted far, tethered by the length of your arm,
Of mine, by the buoy of our two hands joined.
And we knew we had tasted the edge of something sweet.
Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication