His mother wore, as in a fairy-tale,
A fragrant crown upon her snow-white veil.
The photograph obsessed him. Didn’t she know
What grievous crops such blossomings entail?

There was that sweetness just beneath the skin
A single night of frost undid: blood kin
To acrimony; the boy’s crush rebuffed;
Sour notes drawn from a solar violin.

Abroad, at the Orangerie, he came
Upon Monet’s great mirrorings aflame
With water blues, sky purples, greens and pinks…
The past lending no color but a name.

Followed those winters when the mercury dove
Past all endurance. What could simple Love
Hope to accomplish? Yet each night he lit
His sorry smudge-pot in the shivering grove.

Segment by segment, nonetheless a mind
Made up of taste and sunlight. May the blind
Gods who drink its juice be satisfied,
Disposing gently of the empty rind.

After Jim’s funeral the marmalade
Deathmask tomcat Agent Orange stayed
Far from the house. Time passed and, mourning done,
One bright dusk up he sauntered, undismayed.


This Issue

December 3, 1998