A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
It is a ship sinking with its hold of spices
and crew of ghosts. A young boy is picking
a flower with a mysterious name and scent he will carry
for years to come. A windowpane drifts over the print of the living
room rug. There is a woman, my sister, lying in
a hospital bed. Since it is All Hallows, I put a
mask on her and take her picture. I rub the leaves
and smell my hands. I have crushed them. They were
fragile and paper-like, yellowed and foxed
like an old book. I drank in their odor like water from a
clear creek. The following morning, water had a trace
of chemical. I could see my face in branches everywhere.
Black steeple and the bells rang. A snowfall of petals.
We placed a crown of flowers on the Virgin Mary’s head.
We brought our daughters and sons home in boxes lined with velvet.
When we had only enough to eat for ourselves or our cat,
we fed the cat, then begged for food for the cat.
The word God was in our mouth like a lozenge.
Our arms ached. Our hearts ached.
copyright 2015 Leonard Gontarek
— Queensboro Bridge (NYC Municipal Archives)