Two prickly pears in a small bowl
of old majolica posed on a silken stole
ask will you be my valentine…
recall a sweet Venetian barcarole.
Cactus creatures pocked with tiny spines
they stab the skin like quills of porcupine
they do not kill but finely cut the wounds
of will you be my valentine…
Deep red the foreground drapery is strewn
with fruitskins and a plate of macaroons
heart-shaped, in bastard amber light—
eternity is where it’s always afternoon.
The atmosphere floods with gemütlichkeit
a goblet filled and ready to be raised invites
once more, then, will you be my valentine…?
The background says: I think I might.
. STILL-LIFE WITH PRICKLY PEARS
They are not mean, but meaning to be kind,
the ones whose work it is to bring him here–
merely a job to do, to hold and steer
an old man who is frail, half-blind,
toward a sunny bench where he may find
companionship in leafy atmosphere–
perhaps a little bird to tweet some cheer
and take him out of his own mind.
Here, everything is new under the sun:
the spill of light climbs up a tree
a little breast of sand temples the ants
a chickadee bows like a tiny nun
upon a branch, to hear the pink soliloquy
of a wild rose, dressed for the dance.
All is circumstance.
Seated between mirth and agony
no longer wishing to foresee
no longer slave to memory
his ancientness, still as a garden gnome,
waits for whoever comes to fetch him home.
. IN A GARDEN OF GIVENS