Today's poem is by Rodney Jones


When I moved in with her, I thought now
I won't have to look it up:
rubidium, Calvin Trillin, the fourth-
longest river in Brazil.
The lunar mountain ranges
zoomed in. Zygotes and paramecia
made themselves known. She
could cook a mean boeuf bourguignon,
then rank the leading authorities
on the aspiration of the h
or mystical tenses of Latin verbs.
But you are so creative, there's
not a creative bone in my body,
she would say, when I insisted
before friends we had recently met
that not I but she was the brain.
Now that she is gone,
now I can feel secure, one
of my thoughts sending another
down through the foggy
databases, the fractures,
and the unions. Here boy,
I whistle to the dog of my thoughts.
I am thinking how,
before I lived with her,
I was known as the brain,
but I valued the heart more than the brain,
and more than the heart,
the flag of the erogenous zones—
loving me was like patriotism,
but I was not fit to live with her.
I knew, when she began to chant
and burn incense to the Asian saints,
I did not know her secret anything.
Still, I had ideas, insights,
a brain like the world's mute,
lightning-soldered, accidental
intelligence. With that same
brain now I hold our ill-starred,
incompatible visions
of happiness and tragedy.
Yet when I need to know
how spinnerets work
or the distance to Alpha Centauri,
I think of her, not for long
or at any depth, or what
she was, but the last
compliment that means anything
is the compliment to memory.

Copyright © 2002 Rodney Jones All rights reserved
from The Southern Review
and Kingdom of the Instant (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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