L.L. Barkat - 2
I have never seen one,
speaking of the mulberry tree.
They are large, I told him.
It is hard to reach the berries,
though some branches weep down,
and in the weeping
your chance is granted.
Dark, dark purple, I told him. Indigo maybe.
The stain goes deep.
It will ruin your clothes, I told him--
even as you can't stop yourself
from taking more
and more and more.
Do the shells still hear the sea,
though they are in pieces;
how deep does the hearing of the sea
enter into bone.
Upon Learning that Fur Was Lost in Translation (and then learning that it wasn't, but too late for this sonnet)
What did fine French Cinder elles wear besides
glass, what high class did they hope to flaunt to
the ball, what gall muster towards, "I do"?
Did they eat ash, secret, pretend inside,
ache for privilege to take midnight steed ride
to prince, to price, to prove flamed thoughts, undo
braided tresses, guesses; did they have clues
about the way ever-after collides
in fives, in tens, muttered end lines tight shut,
a fight to rise between odd hours ticking,
tripping like a da-dum tapped short, slight cut
into small rooms, I am's that jam, turning
coated slippers towards spondee minutes
spent as splintered moments on silk shorn string?
What if the only way
she could write again
required a white cup
And the cup,
would she pour herself
into it? Or, rather, bring it to her lips.
What if she held the cup very close,
by its delicate white handle,
and whispered into the hollow.
I was five, and he said
pick mulberries with me;
I could show you the tree
on which they weep and sway.
And her mother held her chin
and said, tell him no...
it would spoil your hand-sewn dress.
Solo at the Red Sun Buffet
Signs: sushi, grill, barb-q,
in green, orange neon.
Trill and hum of fridges
ovens, clack of friers.
Red crustaceans stacked
near fried rice, their eyes
black and fixed, like the gaze
of the leaning waitress; silent
in faux pink silk, she follows
every sip of my hot and sour,
each bite into my slight,
stale spring roll.
This morning, in the sunset yellow dining room,
I held the Princeton to my lips, its handle soft
between my thumb and tiny index finger,
its gold rim imperceptible to taste, but circling
Lazy, perhaps, or careless, I had seated the Princeton
in the Profile saucer (also white, also fine bone). Still.
When I held it close, and towards the light, my left hand
joining the embrace, I thought to ask you this:
Did you know, if you tilt the bone just right,
you can see the fingers silhouetted, on the other side.
Remind me, would you,
to buy more of the Peach Momotaro,
with its images of waterfalls, lichen-toned
terraces, waves of mountains imprinted
with dots, little white flowers, and mist.
When I drink it, and the steam enters me,
I think of you and the water feels as if
it’s pouring over the mountains.
On Belleview Avenue
Japanese, I suspect,
as in split maple, as in
it takes a hundred years
to snake these arms to such breadth;
anyway, it seems everything
must have been leading to this juncture--
droughts, floods, springs coming
too early, everything conspired towards this:
snow, like white butterflies, laid
over old curves, dead leaves, intersections,
now ready to soft wing
the empty night.
The News, March 2011
I found a button,
It was sitting like the last star
in a mangled universe,
and all our brilliance
were melting a hole
into the earth
and invisible dust
kept falling, falling
out and over
day, night, history.
I picked it up--
and thought of your
curved as a shell
and just as delicate;
I thought of thin white cotton,
a blouse to touch
and a line of empty buttonholes.
Then I knew
that the sea must have taken it
this mother-of-pearl, this last star,
and I wished for a silver needle
and a virgin spool
I should tell you
about my hands, small
The other night,
when my youngest daughter
said, as I tucked her into bed,
Tell me something. Tell me anything,
I turned off the light and whispered this:
when I cut the beets tonight,
the red water went all into
the lines on my hands--
so many lines.