Days of 1983

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audio of Emily Grosholz's poem, Days of 1983

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Emily Grosholz

Days of 1983

 

      I came to visit you, but only slightly,
      Like sunlight from the east when break of day
      Chases the dream clouds over the horizon,
      Glimpsed from a certain angle, half recalled.

      Four or five days, no more, arriving only
      After you’d shut the door and hid the key
      Under the terra-cotta pot of basil,
      And rushed off to your airplane, late as usual.

      I used up all the maté in the tin
      And found it always made my heart beat faster;
      I played your Dvořák tapes, the older tangos,
      And sang along with Tosca, start to finish,

      Though as you know I strongly disapprove
      Of firing squads, and death by parapet.
      You’ll find some new Rossini tapes, and Mozart,
      And Motown, waiting for you on the table

      Whose legs are, incidentally, very wobbly.
      I hope you’ll learn some other songs by heart
      And bracket the table legs: I’d do it for you,
      But carpentry is not my cup of maté.

      Besides, what kind of store sells nails and brackets?
      I found the grocery store, but had no time
      To learn the odd taxonomy of commerce.
      Most of my hours I spent in your soft chair

      Reading, of course, and listening to the quarrels
      Of neighbors, cats, whatever it is you call
      Those little birds who always seem so hungry.
      I must say I especially enjoyed

      Sleeping on your pillow, between your sheets
      While they still smelled like you, until the older
      Lady who cleans your house changed all the linens.
      Each day at nightfall, I walked the few blocks

      To your train-station café, and drank some coffee
      Watching the light drift under the horizon,
      Writing these dream notes down to tuck beside
      The key, beneath the fragrant pot of basil.

      You’ll see me turn the corner as you turn
      The corner, coming home, a flash of heels
      And pocketbook and scarlet flowered silk;
      An optical illusion; a trace of tears.

      I left some roses, but I fear they’re fading
      As Ronsard says they will, or just unsung
      As Borges says they are. I left my scent
      (Chanel), and I refilled your tin of maté.