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Portrait of the Reader With Cereal

ISSUE:  Spring 1998

“A poet . . . never speaks directly, 
as to someone at the breakfast table.”

- Yeats

This morning I sit across from you
at the same small table,
the sun italicizing
the breakfast things,
the side of a blue-and-white pitcher,
a dish of berries.

As usual I haven’t a word to say,
so we sit here in a pool of silence,
beneath the roof and the bright sky,
me wearing a sweatshirt or robe,
you invisible.

There is no need to pass the toast,
the pot of jam,
or pour you a cup of tea.
So I look out the window at a bird.
I stare right through you at the wall.
or I read the paper, its calamitous news
rotating in a drum of print.

But some mornings the tea leaves
of a dream will be stuck
to the china slope of my memory
and a little door will open in the air—

then I will lean forward,
elbows on the table,
with something to tell you,
and you will look up,
your spoon dripping milk, ready to listen.


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