Winner of the Dogwood 2015 Poetry Award
For Paul Celan
I finally dug up the Calla lilies, the Rosemary and the Rue
that had gone crazy in the garden since you left.
Today I planted succulents and river stones.
I baked the figs and bought some peaches,
the first stone fruit.
Every summer I remember you as a boy,
naming the flowers as we walked out of the city.
You savored the new English words in your mouth:
“That unmatch’d form…blasted with ecstasy…”
I still see you as that boy sometimes, fifteen or so and smiling.
City Mouse you’ve called yourself, “my best friends are flâneurs.”
But most of your poems were set outside—hardly anything mechanical—the odd clock, the closed up house,
wells and snow, beech tree forests,
Faux Wolfsbane in the peated moor—that yellow flower.
Landscapes from the Bible.
Barely covered rocks and stones in upturned earth.
You examine them as if they are encrypted.
You hold them like seashells to your ear.
Years later when we met again you said,
“It was time for the stones to open up
and bloom beyond mere rumors.”
I keep one of your stones under my tongue,
when I walk the town some evenings, as if I know we’ll meet.
I would pass it to you, mouth to mouth in the unbaled dark,
like an almond or a fig.
You would pass it back to me: “It isn’t sealed.
Read it now, just read it.
I have tried and tried to tell you,
They have been talking to us for years.”