Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bengal Spice Tea

This poem was inspired by the painting "Device Circle" by Jasper Johns (it has a lot of red in it) and by snippets of poems from "The Rain in Portugal," by Billy Collins

at ten past twelve
on the reddest day of the year
bundled in layers to ward off winter

you and i
head down a snowy path

it is our choice
no one is making us do this
we go willingly but not

we do it because
it's supposed to be good for us
even in the cold
even if we hate it

we call it trudging
the way we move
one short step at a time

we are not in a hurry
we never hurry
we say we are too old to hurry

ten past twelve
a good time to set out
morning chores behind us
the heart of the afternoon right here
surrounding us

later we will have tea
and buttered toast
we might shell pistachios
i wonder if there are any figs left

that is in the land of future-maybe
and we are practicing being in the

the present-now that shifts
second by second
so if either of us checked our watch
(which we do not)
we would see that it is no longer
10 past 12

it is 15 or maybe even 20
minutes beyond noon

noon is just a memory

now is the cold air of this moment
the wind burning your eyes
my fingertips cold
though i had high hopes for these new gloves

you will not wear a scarf
you simply will not
but you do own a hat with ear-flaps
and you are wearing it

i wear a sweater
and a vest
under my coat

i waddle
you are more sure-footed
not quite as layered

you don't complain that i complain
i have not stopped complaining
since we left the house

i don't mention that you are sniffling
and not using a hankie

i say
we are two odd ducks

you laugh
you don't quack
though i suspect you want to

it is too cold to quack
a quack would freeze midway
in the air between us

when we get to the end of the path
we can turn right or left
if we want to continue

but we do not want to continue
so we turn around
and head back in the direction of home

it is no longer the reddest day
it has become a bluegreen day
with patches of white
that are neither snowflakes
nor clouds

once we are home
wearing only our indoor layers
and our noses have warmed up
you kiss me on my forehead

and i kiss you on your forehead

and then you go to make the toast
i put the kettle on

it will be bengal spice tea today