Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bearily I Say to You


Mistaken, taken for
granted: her hips rose, rose
hips. The top note, that initial overpowering
scent can be mistaken
before it fades into the heart
note, which is the final,
true scent that lingers when the purple
finches have flown away. Granted: a song is a verbal
fence, and so Delilah sings Mon coeur
s'ouvre à to voix, My heart opens
at your voice, but then must cut
Samson's hair because he prefers
God to her, Miss Taken
for Granted. In Fra Angelico's painting, even the flames
of cypress flare up
along the road where the gold-haloed
heads of the martyred Saints Cosme and Damien
roll like rocks with notes
bound over their eyes. It is a splash
of black in a sunny landscape,
van Gogh said of the cypress,
but it is one of the most interesting
black notes, and the most difficult
to hit off that I can
imagine. Mistaken for granite—the skyline
of San Gimignano fallen
on its side, lines grazing out
and back like the lines of
this poem, like cows coming
home, where Italo Svevo swore
to his new wife, Livia: I will love you
forever, as far as the fin de siècle
will allow. He meant to be
diagonal like agony, to outlast
the flat leaves of the hollyhock, which hasten
to lace. Mistaken: the closed burgundy
whorls of the hibiscus fallen
on the path, soft and damp
as the bodies of birds. "Chicken in half-
mourning," poulet demi-deuil, has so many black
truffle slices slid under
its skin that it appears to be
wearing black, just as the pearl-grey
waves of moiré in the Venetian lagoon
could be the waves
of the brain: Touch your hair
if you re going to the Ridotto. Nod
or shake your head
to tell me whether you plan to
go to the piazza, Venetian
lovers once wrote in secret
notes that from the air
could be mistaken
for ruins along the canal where
they met: runes arching their backs
against the sea. Your plane taxis
out to the runway; in a moment it will
lift as you have so many times
beneath me.

Angie Estes

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