DREAMS AND VARIATIONS

(An Exercise)

1.
In a dinghy without oars,
surprised at my age to be pregnant,
I waited for a ship that would not come.
I wished myself ashore
to meet my son, a toddler still,
dressed like a highwayman.

In a bustling kitchen,
cooking with a crowd,
I peeled potatoes with a man who kissed me.
Because I am old, his girlfriend didn’t mind
but sat knitting yellow socks.

I had to sort an attic full of things:
paint, old photos, feathers, soap.
The cat kept trying to escape
and none of the toilets was clean.
In a corner Mary Cassatt
was searching for her flute.

My husband and I walked
down a small-town street.
Oranges were ripening, huge and moist–
uncommon in Vermont–
and one green grapefruit,
big as a balloon.

2.
In a dinghy without oars,
surprised at my age to be pregnant,
I waited for a ship that would not come.
I wished myself ashore.

Surprised at my age to be pregnant,
I met my son, a toddler still.
I found myself ashore,
dressed like a highwayman.

I met my son,  a toddler still,
in a bustling kitchen,
dressed like a highwayman.
A young man kissed me

in a bustling kitchen.
His girlfriend didn’t mind
that the young man kissed me.
I was knitting yellow socks.

The girlfriend didn’t mind
that I sorted through her things.
She was busy knitting socks.
Paint, old photos, feathers, soap:

the things I sorted through.
The cat kept trying to escape
the photos, feathers, soap.
None of the toilets was clean.

The cat kept trying to escape
from Mary Cassatt–
none of her toilets was clean,
and she could not find her flute.

Mary Cassatt walked with my husband
down a small town street.
She could not find her flute.
Oranges were ripening, huge and moist

along the small town street,
uncommon in Vermont.
Oranges kept ripening, huge and moist,
and one green grapefruit,

uncommon in Vermont.
I waited for a ship that would not come
and one green grapefruit
like a dinghy without oars.

3.
In a skiff wanting sweep
bushwhacked in my maturity by gravidity,
I expected a craft that would not turn up.
I yearned myself aground
to encounter my boy,  a nipper yet,
costumed like a bandit.

In an aggressive galley,
brewing with a legion,
I shucked spuds with a youth who saluted me.
Because I am ancient, his flame did not complain
but perched plaiting citrine hose.

I was required to arrange a garret awash with baggage:
chroma,  ancient vignettes, fluff, castile.
The malkin kept attempting to depart.
Not one of the privies was tidy.
At the crossroad, Mary Cassatt
was assaying her depression.

My consort and I traipsed
along an inconsequential village lane.
Coral was blooming, monstrous and damp–
preternatural in green mountains–
and a single viridian shaddock,
massive as a blimp.

January 13, 2000, December, 2011

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