[lit-ideas] Re: SUNDAY'S poem

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 16:34:55 -0800

At the counter of the Vancouver Art museum's hip trattoria and tea room,
Mozart played merrily overhead, a relief from elsewhere's Xmas cheer.
Putting in time before half past four
and our college outing's re-gathering near the entrance door,
I was tempted by an early glass of pinot grigio,
("It's made right here in Canada, you know,")
while I considered soup's ability to stave off rainy weather,
and the near-north's unrelenting darkness.

Scooting my tray along,
I was reminded strangely of earlier,
when, distributing papers at a committee meeting,
I intoned cadavorously, (or at least in the key of C of E) "body of..."
A colleague asked what I meant.
"Communion." I said, "A blasphemer's memory.
Greater love hath no man than the giver out of bumf."
She hurrumphed.

At the entr=E9es, I ran my tongue along my teeth
and found a foul taste of old tobacco smoke.
Overnighting in Darlene and the boys' house,
I'd offered to sort stacks in Stephen's office:
correspondence, TLS tearouts, parodies, debates, drafts of scholarship,
university circulars, instructions on how exactly to de-bone a chicken.
There was POGO on Kant, Hacking's latest,
charts of marks with exemplary notes.

As you know, smoke lingers longer than ghosts.
It's in the walls, the books, the carpet, his chair.
Since I tarried in there,
I attracted particles that once Stephen had inhaled.
They must have wiggled free microscopically,
perceiving, somehow, in my mouth's virginity,
a chance at post-mortem liberty.

Thus at the museum's desserts,
where sweetness should have been,
I found vestiges of Stephen.
My close friend had become an acquired taste,
a plaque upon my teeth.

Asked what sir desired,
I inquired after the cleaning power of mussels in wine sauce,
with maybe a small blob of toothpaste on the side.
The sold me wine, salad, boneless chicken quiche.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon

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