The Woman & the Lotus
She is leafing through a book in the library with all the nonchalance of a rubber tree brushed by a steady wind in a valley in Vietnam. With the lilting half-syllables of someone who has to pick up the language at fourteen, she turns & says, "Robert, you know, in my country..." pointing to a photograph in the book on water lilies, "...this is the lotus, & my grandfather would put tea in the flower, leave it overnight while it closed, & gather it again in the morning. It smells so good. "
I watched her eyes reach back through that Proustian sensation to childhood. Now, she's a senior majoring in chemical engineering. "..&, you know, Robert, my people would feed the horse the tea, then kill the horse. They take it out of the stomach in a few days. It is very expensive."
Lan told me once that her name means "orchid." Another time, after showing her some pieces I'd written about my wife & undergarments, or other women observed on the street & what they might have worn, Lan paused, & in her own way, intoned, "This weekend I must go shopping?, to make more poems?, for the world!"
The Elevator of the Dream
When I woke I noticed the moon I'd dreamt of, & tracked down, still there on her face through the skylight. Her heavy-breathing, sleeping face covered in a veil of light lighter than sheets on her body. I laughed for no reason, other than joy. So there we were quietly awake, & I told her of my dream where I took the elevator up to the sea, & tracked the moon in two different stages. Then, stood in front of the same elevator seeking the sea again, which you must know how difficult that is, to find the same thing a second time in the dream. It barely returns evanescent, at best. Two young girls in front of the elevator as well, exercising & talking to each other, would-be contortionists of Beauty. One asked, "How did you like seeing the sea?" I replied, "Are you 'ddressing me?" leaving out the "a" with a Freudian slip in the dream, leaving me tongue-tied & embarrassed before these dancers. My wife said the source of the dream must have come from the two young girls we saw the day before coming out of the sea dripping wet in their bathing-suits. An image I'd forgotten, but certainly did not want to forget: two girls at the end of a November day coming out of an Atlantic my wife pointed out was rose aglow. I could not help telling the two young boys playing with their toy motorcycle to stop, & take a look at that rose color on the water, to intrude on their make-believe world, & point out the possible Beauty of real life. The two days, the love of the two days, the one from the view of the seawall, & this day with her, face veiled in moonlight, joined as if in marriage by the dream. That yesterday, when I noticed all the houses had removed their wooden ladders to the sea, & this day, when I stepped out of the elevator of the dream.
(See poems in Slow Trains Issue 2 and the September 11 section)