Poetry Porch: Poetry

 

BLOCK
by Ellen Davis

When I turn the corner of my new favorite streetó
itís not far from you, you know it, it runs parallel
to Beacon on one side, the Green Line on the otheró

Iím knocked out by the scent of cedar chips
in the petunia beds, piled high in squares
around linden trees. This morningís walk helps me

to clarify and refine: for days, Iíve been uneasy.
Iíve been thinking about my friends and in what ways I care about them.
To mill through, to mull overóthese farm terms

seem right for my sifting job. I finally got back
to walking after a few days of nothing but dull errands.
I couldnít wait to stroll by the huge rhododendron

next door in the old manís yard. Three days ago
it was green with a few plump buds; now itís a magenta circus,
chartreuse helicopters from the maples spiraling down.

I like the sound of chartreuse. It sounds like
what it isóa deadly French drink, something Les Symbolistes
downed in their nights of drunken spendor. Mallarmť would have

loved it. I want to drink peppermint tea and write poems.
I want to live in our roomy, air-conditioned space ship
with no sounds coming in from the outside. I want

wanting Don to be ďenough.Ē Instead I go crazy
about my friends: who likes whom better,
where they are going without me, why they donít call me

all the time, why they are all better than I am.
You canít live like that, canít be in a perpetual state
of suspense about whoís doing what with whom

and whoís getting it. Another old man is standing
on the sidewalk examining the stubby azalea bushes
as I approach: Why donít they blossom? He looks perplexed.

So the block helps to take it away from me, reminds me
of my home town minus the family and all
that it exacts. Staid as it is, this collection

of condos and small houses offers that sweet sanctuary
in which I can think. When I walk out in the morning,
Iím curious about the signs of life Iíll meet up with.

Today, between eight and nine there are very few:
Inarticulate murmur of the radio inside one house,
conversations verging into argument in another,

a babyís self-satisfied squall. Iím thinking that if I turn
down that block often enough, Iíll see a FOR RENT
sign in one of those buildings. Weíd be able to move

to the quiet, more fragrant street and escape all this noise.
You wouldnít believe the racket produced in a place
where college students mix it up with Hasidic Jews.

I get back from my walk, back to the bed where my husband is
just waking, and the outside recedes, for a moment, for good.


Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Davis.