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Emotional Traffic

ISSUE:  Spring 1988

A pretty woman in a cape passes by my window.
 I like watching her now instead of worrying.
  She’s lifted from some famous painting

by Bonnard, where fruits and breads, bright spheres of light,
 yellows, browns and reds, decorate the kitchen table.
  Everybody’s happy. She’s stolen a boy’s diary

because she has to know what’s in someone else’s mind.
 I like to think I’m in my undershirt, my mind’s
  a vat of Beaujolais. A dreamer, no longer

driven, I have someone else’s parents. All the balloons
 in town are filled with gravel, and floating upward,
  ascension, as they used to call it,

is frowned upon. So I’m down in the dumps, trying to
 what fills the window. The familiar’s so familiar
  I don’t want to tell you how blue is blue,

how I’m like my mother. We’ve walked that road before,
 the road of accusations, that row of stepped-on
  ruined azalea beds. I want to testify

to fleeting beauty. The giant blue jays in the oak should be
  waxwings. I’d like my childhood not to weigh
   a thousand pounds. A woman in a cape

passed by my window. She talks all-day—it takes all day
 to make the beds. Since there’s no telephone
  she talks to herself. She complains

about her husband, that old sack of flour. She wants
 her son under foot, so he can use the broom.
  Each word makes her less mysterious,

more my mother. The road that once led to the village
 where neighbors live, where bakers mix up flour
  with politics, where the public’s not private,

still takes me home again, to the same old field of light
 that colors what I see. I must weed out passages
  that refer just to me. So the woman

in the cape can rest more easily. The book’s her window
 to the world: she finds the torn out pages baffling:
  but she can guess I’m bored to death with her.


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