Creation Story on Magnolia Drive, Cleveland
The dregs of dried jasmine in the sink, pear slices over flakes in a wooden bowl.
Once there was a woman floating in a cloud, looking down. Someone carrying a cello along the sidewalk, against the wind, as if she were dragging a partner in a marathon
dance, trying not to fall. Once a car turned over, woke from its dream, and wandered backward down the drive. Once a turtle sat sunning in the middle of the street, neck outstretched, eyes closed, holding up the world.
Once there was a nickel, a dime, slipped into the parking meter: fifteen minutes of borrowed time. Fennel spines sticking out of a paper sack, a drought-split tomato bigger than a fist. Our local gangster, gold chains around his neck, cradled the cardboard carton, fingered each egg for cracks.
Mid-morning drizzle, back home, you talking pathology blues to your sister on the phone. And wind shushing the willows. On the floor below, the Greens outlining the risks of transporting plutonium. And wind shushing the willows. Dumping the rancid vegetables in the backyard. A stopped-up toilet, rising out of itself. And wind shushing through willows, working to strip the branches bare.
Upon a time once. Once there was she, once there was me, and not yet three: oil of safflower, sweet almond and sesame. And lovely flanks, and a rough tongue tracing a flower. Calendula and rosemary: not yet three. (You were falling, falling). And downstairs, someone cleaning dishes in a kitchen. And hair sweeping over legs like a silk fan. And thunder, and thunder, and a ripple and shudder of the blinds, O and O and O—wind breathing sweet magnolia.
* * * * *
This piece appears in Metres’ prize-winning collection To See the Earth
(Cleveland State University Press, 2008)
and is included in the Crisis Chronicles Library by permission
All rights remain with Philip Metres
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