Poetry Porch: Poetry


A Small Door
by Gail Mazur

Travel—a small door to the future,
door I’ve dragged the past,

its weights and measures, through.
That was another century—

now the contrarian I traveled with
(my friend who could have argued

with the Guilin mountains
or engaged Xian’s unearthed

terra cotta soldiers
still scanning the distance

for their dead emperor’s enemies,
if he’d been able to

descend, to see
the terra cotta of their eyes)—

wakes from his morphine coma
to tell the transformed room

what an amazing life he’s had,
he can’t believe how amazing!

stunning us with his valediction.
(The Persian proverb says,

Write kindness in marble,
write injuries in dust.

—And me, thinking only,
Doesn’t what happens to the body

clip the spirit, too?

Then he sits up, sips a coke,

and visits. His life, I think,
clear, shapely, ended

in death’s hospitable loggia,
as if the life of argument,

the quarrel,
had really been the form,

the path,
the reconciliation.

Copyright © by Gail Mazur. This poem is from Zeppo’s First Wife, University of Chicago Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission.