Of course there’s the rose
tranced across sun-warmed tile,
but also the soft tattoo
of newsprint along a commuter’s palm,
the flush of a motel sign the instant
it signals No Vacancy. I have always loved
these moments of delicate transition:
walking alone in a borrowed house
to a slim meridian of dawn barring
the pillow before the cool breeze,
a curtain of rain on the iron steps, rain
laving lawn chairs arranged
for a conversation finished days ago.
The Japanese call this utsuroi,
a way of finding beauty at the point
it is altered, so it is not the beauty
of the rose, but its evanescence
which tenders the greater joy.
Beneath my hands the cat’s thick fur
dapples silver, the slant of afternoon.
How briefly they flourish then turn,
exalted litanies in the rifts
between milliseconds, time enough for a life
to change, and change utterly.
The magnesium flash of headlights
passing backlit the boy’s face
in my novel – the heroine’s epiphany
and she knows she is leaving, a canopy
of foliage surrounds his dark hair
whispering over, over – that sweet rending.
Nothing linear to this plot, simply
the kaleidoscopic click and shift
of variations undone on the instant:
evening as it vanishes gilds
the chambermaid’s thin blond hair
in her hotel window and she thinks
I could die now and it would be enough.
Long beyond nightfall, after the café’s closing
the waiters slide from their jackets and set
places for themselves, paper lanterns blowing
in the trees, leaf shapes casting and recasting
their fugitive spell over the tables,
over the traffic’s sleek sussurrus.