Today's poem is by Anna George Meek
An Old Man Performs Alchemy
on His Doorstep at Christmastime
Cream of Tartar, commonly used to lift meringue and
angel food cake, is actually made from crystallized fine wine.
After they stopped singing for him,
the carolers became transparent in the dark,
and he stepped into their emptiness to say
he lost his wife last week, please
sing again. Their voices filled with gold.
Last week, his fedora nodded hello to me
on the sidewalk, and the fragile breath
of kindness that passed between us
made something sweet of a morning
that had frightened me for no earthly reason.
Surely, you know this by another name:
the mysteries we intake, exhale, could be
sitting on our shelves, left on the bus seat
beside us. Don't wash your hands.
You fingered them at the supermarket,
gave them to the cashier; intoxicated tonight,
she'll sing in the streets. Think of the old man.
Who knew he kept the secret of levitation,
transference, and lightness filling a winter night?
an effortless, crystalline powder
that could almost seem transfigured from loss.
Copyright © 2002 Anna George Meek All rights reserved
from Acts of Contortion
The University of Wisconsin Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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