by David Blomenberg
I shall buy a cat and name it Nicorette, a patch to cover a small bit of myself,
to artificially resolve a need deemed unhealthy. Or I shall name it Stopgap,
Substitute, Sump Pump, Stubby. It will be a short animal, hobbled, homely.
I shall write letters only on cigarette papers, using both sides, the letters in ink,
illegible, dancing into each other above my Hope you are well and Sincerely or
I shall shrink my liver like a pricked balloon, slowly, eating nothing but leafy things
and tuna with water, no paté, no patty melts, no baklava, no wine
I shall learn Hungarian and find those two old women who told me when
to change trains for Kecskemet. Shall learn Hungarian to thank them
in their own language, accept the shorter woman’s offer of unpronounceable
dinner in her whitewashed flat near the overpass. She pointed out its clinging
geraniums, brushed my jawline, held her dress down as she wheeled her little cart
along the windy platform.
I shall return to that square in front of Paris’s main Hotel de Ville, filled once
and orange bicycles, hundreds, that leaned against each other in tangled neon
catastrophe, which the two kepi’d policemen could not explain.
I shall shave ice in my own hometown and place a maple-syrup slurpee
on the gravesite of every neighbor I had. Shall sit at each until the crystals vanish,
the liquid clarifies, the cherry sinks, oh lost Ruby.
I shall not view sunrise or sunset as an irrevocable closing-off, a sequestration,
from me, a visible symbol of their way to stay untainted, unalterable, facts out
I shall not see the brief flash of light under the elevator door at each floor as
the same thing.
I shall do situps until my abdomen hardens into the segmented waspwaist of the
athlete, the lithe flexion of the sand shark, my limber way through the streets
of desire and renunciation.
I shall write down every regret. The steamed dumplings I’d driven twenty minutes
pulled with tongs from the buffet steamer, had been there too long, had hardened
into glass capsules, dessicated amnions, their shrimp-and-chive zygotes suspended,
I shall write each regret. Art resides in one’s sense of shame. It is the cold in another
in which I stood near someone who looked like you. A string of spit was frozen to his
chin. A tiny rope, the frozen white thread a knotted sheet, as if some small soul
had chosen to leave.