Drink to Our Dreamed-Of


     Am I finding what I need? she wants to know,
     asking me with narrowed lips while one lank hand
     fingers an extracted wisdom tooth (her own?)
     suspended from a chain about her swanny neck.

     Just drowsing I tell her--the unfortunate truth;
     to say I "flip" through the smallpress'd ranks
     would be overenergetic exaggeration.
     Volume following after spiny volume,
     minimalistic calisthenics like stillborn haikus:
     half their eyes cast to next season's canon,
     the other half to last season's critiques;
     while the mere reader, malnourished starveling,
     must somnambulate through the literary boneyard
     and pick his teeth or hers, as case may be.

         (Here my young clerical friend quits fiddling
                  with her bit of ex-grinder ivory.)

    Where among these skeletal quarterlies, I ask
     waxing Gatsbyish, might we still discover
     that Secret Place Above the Trees?
     that fresh green breast of new world wonder
     where, sucking in our breath, we may yet
     drink to our dreamed-of capacity and beyond?

       She, good modest feminist, with bridling blush
       points out a certain lone impression then:
       slender like herself and as milkless-seeming,
       but concealed within its paperthinness I find
               an orchard at high harvest time—
               a vast winecellar, vintage stocked—
               a brightlit galleryful of Renoirs—
       each stanza blessed with shapely flesh upon
       its lines; not one abashed by formulaic stint.

      I glance at my guide; her lips seem not so narrow.
          "Something to get your teeth into," says she.




Originally published in Dog River Review
(Parkdale, OR: Trout Creek Press)
Vol. 10, No. 1, Summer 1991

Copyright © 1991, 2004  by P. S. Ehrlich

click here to return to the Old Litter Index

Images (except the tooth) copyright © 2002 by TLC Productivity Properties LLC, and its licensors:
all rights reserved.  Images may not be downloaded or saved; used only for viewing purposes.