A Prayer For the Evening Meal
If we lived together,
would that spell an end
to my private buffet dinners
in the pale chill
of open refrigerators?
To banquets of dripping black olives
plucked from Tupperware,
a fistful of salad, the dregs of
bleu cheese and Camembert
thoughtlessly bagged together,
their bouquets appallingly fused,
compelling desperate swigs
from a plastic bottle
of raspberry seltzer,
followed by a
then a broken Dutch pretzel
swabbed with the same?
If you were here now,
would my self-pitying heart
have no need to justify
cracking the freezer,
to behold the remains of
Nobody's watching. No one sees
me break it with trembling hands,
dusting the floor with
brown shards that I'll forget
— till they stick to my feet
and reappear on the carpet,
making me rage again,
stupid with loneliness.
Yet, even as my needy jaws
suckle a moment's cheap sweetness
to placate my weakened flesh
I do remember:
A hand, reaching for mine
across an oaken table
set with cloth napkins
and fragrant plates,
to revive this starving soul.
If we were each other's,
would we sit to eat
like the normal folk
we've never been,
gorging on the sight of ourselves
like that, forever?
Do you promise?
— AW, hungering for BK 7 January 1996
Crossing the Río Magdalena, Santander Province, Colombia
In a town along a deadly river,
I lay in a darkened safe-house,
resurrecting your voice.
Hours before, a shining fruit
a child found in an orchard had
exploded when he plucked its stem.
I arrived to sirens and
seething ambulance lights
that further bloodied the waters
I had come to drink.
I never slept. Neither had young widows
who'd huddled here before,
suckling babies with grief
that poured from men so twisted
they exalted creeds
they lived for
above all life itself.
And now I was one of them.
Be safe, was all you'd asked.
I will, I'd assured —
a promise I was about to break,
a betrayal I justified for truth.
Truth, that self-righteous bitch
who, for years — for want of you —
I'd nightly clenched to my breast
to chill myself to sleep,
truth, who had beguiled me
to believe that truth outlasts life.
Now I had slunk back to truth's numbing embrace — far from your silken
from the blessed balm of your love.
At dawn, I embarked on the river
silted with its accumulated sorrows.
Beyond any justice, I was spared.
By evening I returned, bearing trophies of truth: garlands of words I'd
from sharpened claws,
which had impaled others
less lucky than I.
I paced the harbor's hot streets
and tendered God a deal:
He could have those words,
all my words, in exchange for you.
Some Protector: He refused. The words,
God said, were mine to offer,
but love, He reminded, has no price.
So it was up to me.
far from the river,
I prayed before a crystal case
that housed a bed of velvet,
which held a loop of gold
that enclosed a shining gem.
An angel appeared, a jeweler's loupe
suspended from her halo.
¡A la orden! — may I help you?
the angel dared.
Quaking with priceless love, I bowed
and thought I glimpsed God's face.
He smiled. He watched me risk cold truth
to live within your grace.
Sonnet Beyond Words
March 29, 1997
No more words! Words cannot contain
deliverance from years of rain,
the smile restored to me again,
your alchemizing of my pain.
Stripped of words I stand revealed,
with love now as my only shield
from fear that once refused to yield,
from rage with God, now newly healed.
Near wordless in this forest light,
to music drawn from heaven's height,
blessed by these witnesses delight
I beg your hand to make life right.
Please wear my ring and trust my vow
and marry me forever. Now.
About the Author: Alan Weisman is an international journalist and the author of books including Gaviotas and An Echo in My Blood. These poems were written during Weisman’s courtship of his wife, sculptor Beckie Kravetz.
Cpoyright © 1997 by Alan Weisman. The poems may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.