Orison: February, Eugene, Oregon
for Al Young
Months of heavy rain and the back lawn is an emerald pond
with islands of fig and apple trees and their dirt collars
darkening under the pixilated gray of a computer-screen sky.I’ve cinched my desires in a handful of thin books,
wired the dwarf pines and maples in their pots on the deck
and instructed them in Soul Train and break-dance poses
to beguile my children and signify what’s past.Which is various: Motown and min’yo blaring together on the PA of my high school gym,
emanations of soul and shamisen from the living room stereo
back when I was a child, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”
rising like a willow tree by a smooth-flowing river
banded with a long slick of stars streaking across its back
in a wall-hanging of calligraphy and gaudy prints over the Silvertone console.I tell myself I’ve drifted too far now to go back,
my karma the boat of a dry leaf caught in the swirls of that river
taking me from ghetto to this immaculate garden without stain or confusion,
everything so calm and forgotten, the anguish I have
like the darting squirrel that emerges, a nervous and comic thing,
unavailed of all the refulgence and splendor that surrounds him
and would inspire a lapse from instinct and pain
if not for the immutable worry that jags through his heart like a dance.
Copyright © 2018 by Garrett Hongo
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
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