the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Spring 2013



Maria Terrone

Hawthorne Court

The day unfurls for the tourists
who come once a year to the garden
enclosed by brick buildings.

Some point at tiger lilies and iris, exclaiming,
and others sit on stone benches to face
the improbable sweep of sunlit lawn

through a lens. Fanned open, the day presents
a scene that's nearly pastoral, serene
despite the muffled hum of the city.

They can't know that tonight I'll walk alone here.
The two white cats will scurry away
from my footfall, and the moon will follow them

into the ivy, spilling its milk into their fur.
I'll inhale the scent of rosemary nettles
pinched between my fingers, passing through

corridors of gnarled Hawthorne trees that lean
towards me like question marks. Dense, too,
the towering maples, impenetrable

as my dreams; and all the mourning
doves, silent now within the larger sheltering
silence, their wings folded.


Lavender by the Bay

"Beauty is a mess, a sinkhole, a trap."
Arthur Krystal reviewing Umberto Eco's History of Beauty

The farm is well named, a purple haze of buds
that graze the horizon-a sure draw for drivers-by.
Scent of flowering fields. Nearer,
fresh-cut sprays, soaps and sachets—
still-life arrangements on old buffed tables
open to the air on two sides.
"The time for beauty is over," Flaubert said,

but I would argue with that,
having fallen hard into the trap
of nature elegantly wrapped.
Today, this seduction. Last week,
bakery cookies in pale straw baskets
misted over with mint-green netting.
The time for beauty is now,

I decide, lavender-giddy, opening a box
designed like a medieval book.
Inside, a cache of scented notecards
I think I must have, until a voice
declares a price triple what I'd expected.
I back down and climb out of the sinkhole
to find beauty elsewhere.



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