Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Troble with Reading Your Poems (with apologies to Billy Collins)

It’s not that I don’t trust you, but when I read your poems,
     I wonder if that vase of fresh cut roses you describe
could be fake – could be, that is, an imaginary vase,
     rather than one you actually see on your table.

Is there really a gardenia-scented candle burning 
in a darkening kitchen, as the sun sets over the pines outside?
Or are you sitting on the couch, curtains drawn, an old   
     lamp you have had forever burning instead?

I know that jar of jam you describe—(as you spread some
on a biscuit)— as home-made by your lover—(who tied
the lid with raffia) – might have come from a local grocery 
store, made in large vats in a factory,  sold everywhere.

You should see outside my window, Billy – the terraced
back yard – my neighbor, Nick, with his long-handled
hose is kindly watering my newly-planted hydrenga
tree, and his Black-eyed-Susans, ready to pop.

If I wrote a poem, I’d show you my soft new hammock, 
so white and inviting beneath the walnut tree, my glass-
topped umbrella table holding a tray of blackberry tea.
My favorite yellow finch would stop by in his little black vest. 

I wouldn’t make this up, Billy Collins—I wouldn’t 
even know how. I’d take a photo on my cell
phone and send it to you for proof, but
   I don’t know how to do that either. 
You will have to trust me.

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