The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Philip Dacey
The Bar of Chocolate
I allow myself to break off
a little piece each day.
My friends ask, "Isn't that
chocolate bar finished yet?"
More than a week later, I'm proud to say
I've still not consumed it all,
joking that if each day I break off
only half of what's left,
it'll last forever.
But now I see what I hold in my hands
is not a chocolate bar at all
but my life,
which I break off each day
in such small pieces
I can hardly taste it.
Reading the Sunday New York Times Together in Bed
Their love has as many sections
as the paper,
But so much love remains
even after the discards,
they think they'll never
finish reading it. Their history
covers the comforter.
Despite the jokes about
such mass and weight,
they stay committed
to the burden.
How much of a tree
went into this armful of love?
Do their arguments
serve to make pulp?
The newsprint on their fingers
love can never be
a white-glove affair.
When one leg
rubs against another,
they drop the paper
to make tomorrow's news.
"Walt objected to the piano."
I think he would have loved it
if he'd known my mother,
who played an upright at the heart
of all the parties she and my father threw
when I was growing up, the many guests
crowded in a semi-circle around her,
the spirit no doubt like that of Whitman's
Pfaff's, his Broadway hangout—the camaraderie,
the free-flowing talk and drink and food and song.
Whitman thought the sounds the piano made
were not fit for great music,
the instrument's timbre not hefty enough
for his beloved opera.
Writing his own sweeping lines, he could hear
behind and beneath him, in support,
orchestral music, never piano music.
How could he, who loved mothers,
not have loved her, and therefore loved
what came to life under her fingers,
her playing by ear perhaps a cousin to his free verse,
her rendering of pop tunes, Broadway favorites,
and sentimental Irish ballads surely an example
of America singing? And he'd have heard, amazed
at how wrong he'd been about the piano.
I want them to meet: Walt, Teresa; Teresa, Walt.
For is he not in his nurturing
as much a mother as a father?
Oh, but I think now I am already too late,
and they have met as ghosts visiting St. Louis,
where she lived and he visited his brother,
and he has taken her hands into his
and noticed her long, slender fingers,
what she called her "piano fingers."
When he wrote, "Your mother . . . is she living?. . .
Have you been much with her? and has she been
much with you?" surely he was talking to me,
and for a brief moment my name
rises between them like a note
struck from a piano.
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