Poème du Jour
When the iron certainty of fanatics
is fractured by the soft skepticism
of the civilized, when everyone’s rights
are firmly the rights of all, when the dawn
does not disclose a single corpse on the sand
and earthbound hope again extends feathered
wings, then our children may learn to recite
sonnets older and better than this one.
What must we sacrifice to the gods of
weather? Our trucks, our toasters, the Sabbath
lights? In August’s heat, desperate souls dial
down self-defeating air-conditioners.
A tsunami heaves above the supine
city, our delusions of innocence.
The day stretches out like a waking cat.
Firestoned mud softens; emerald daffodils
stand headless but eager. Sudden grackles
squawk and bully among flocks of fretful
winter sparrows cleaving to their feeder.
Ridged with grit, snow banks shrivel to gray knolls.
Joggers emerge, cyclists in their Christmas
gear; warm air inveigles with soil’s scent.
But to the north winter marshals its last
battalions, a blizzard of misery
to tease and freeze heart’s expectations.
Like gobbets of torn flesh, huge wet flakes fall
through the streetlamps’ pale glow. In the morning
a cold sun winks off treacherous streets.
Age is the illusion mirrors make real,
a fact your adolescent soul belies.
Reflections don’t reveal what you feel,
just someone worn and wizened and not wise.
Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction in 2008. His most recent book is a short novel, Losses. firstname.lastname@example.org