I live in Lyons Township Wisconsin with sandhill cranes and coyotes for neighbors. Finding Wisconsin’s nooks and crannies this past year and a half as Wisconsin Poet Laureate has been a joy and an inspiration for my writing. My most recent book is Apprenticed to Justice. You can find more details about my activities here: https://www.facebook.com/WisPoLo/ and more about my work here: http://www.wisconsinpoetlaureate.org/
Dear Mr. Rodriquez Claudia I Have Eaten Your Banana
I cannot say it was a mistake, only
that banana was going bad.
And you may think the same of me
for your cookies are also gone.
Yes, I ate the macadamia nut
while cocooned in the copper throw
in the room in which I found your fruit.
(And although a hotel note offers this warm afghan
only $50—a souvenir of my stay here
I certainly will not pack it
though my own has a gap as big as sin.)
Perhaps I should explain, Mr. Rodriquez,
how I came tired and troubled to your chamber
an interloper in your absence, weary of names.
My day had passed in cultural briefings
the weight of difference heavy in the air.
I sat in rooms where saucers are passed
and labels extended like the lonely hands
of women before believers.
In these places fingers hang
sweet ripened fruit ready for picking.
But followers of Islam are strictly forbidden
to shake the hand of the infidel--
of which apparently I am one.
You must understand how last night
late, the duty of your identity and mine
seemed a weight to which I could not attend.
And so presumed my place in this room
despite the letter bearing your name
and the small gifts that name had earned--
bottled water, red wine, fruit, cookies.
And, yes, this morning
my coffee seemed quite lonely
and after all the bag was open
and only one cookie remained—
oatmeal, crumbled a little, not good
for dipping. (Will it prove something
to tell you I have not yet eaten
of the apple—although I am tempted?)
Ah, Mr. Rodriquez Claudia, even as I say goodbye
your name, too, sounds discord
in my Western ear—yes I say alien
as the coins I set here so graciously
for a uniformed woman I do not know
will never meet in your name or mine
but whose hand, extended, I still picture.
And so I sign myself: Sincerely,
Your erstwhile roommate,
and (as I must remain) Anonymous Servant.
P.S. I have not drunk your wine—
even I am not such an infidel!
Makeshift log stools settle
wobble under the weight
of our third pancake breakfast
and the smell of camp coffee
lifts lazily into the damp air
chasing the last ghost puffs of fog
from Ojibwe lake.
Here where pungent dark odors
rival the musical lure of the pied piper,
grey jays assemble above our heads
caw anxiously while chipmunks gawk.
Here among lust and rumors of bear
long-eared kangaroo mice
skitter across amber pine needles
pause with something near human in their eyes.
Longing perhaps, dappled with rays
from the simple auburn sun.
And this is just one way
of collecting crumbs.
Pickle Song, Circa 1962
picked, boxed, washed,
assembled in line by size
like a choir of school children.
My mother directs this choir—
this memory of summers
scented with vinegar and dill.
Ah, the squeak of green flesh on glass
as we coax each prickly fruit to curve
to huddle just so against the next.
Her fingers place the tiny bow of garlic,
her maestro scissors snip snip snip
and top each jar with twigs of dill.
Wait now for the hot crescendo
the potent brine that will in time
cure and perfect the pickle’s crunch.
The kitchen lights flicked off now
towel-covered jars sealed and waiting
and my mother at rest;
no one will cue these last notes—
the ping pop and echo in the night.
©2016 Kimberly Blaeser