Arcade

Esther Schor

 

The beauty of it’s also
the hell of it: our sharpest teeth

fall out first.  Our rustic customs say
sever tomatoes from their seeds,

roast till they start to weep,
set the table as you’d set a bone.

Overheard in the arcade:
“Don’t ask permission,

ask forgiveness.” Spare me the
wisecracks, fiddle boy,

put down your signs.
When I learn to read,

you’ll be the first to know.
To keep my mind roomy,

I’m forgetting a word a day,
unless I forget. So dream

with confidence, tell the husband
by the dog; the shepherd you never fixed,

the husky with cancer,
the golden who couldn’t master

bow or wow, and the husbands
trotting behind. By the time you awake

they’ll all match up, the bitch you put to sleep
(she cradled in your arms, you in his)

the marriage solemnized
in quickness and in stealth.

ESTHER SCHOR is the author of two books of poems: The Hills of Holland and Strange Nursery. With Rita Dove and Meena Alexander, she recently co-authored Poems for Sarra (2018), a bilingual tribute to the seventeenth-century Venetian intellectual Sarra Copia Sullam. Her nonfiction books include Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language and Emma Lazarus. She is professor of English at Princeton University.


image: Carl Friedrich Schulz, Rhodesian Ridgeback, date unknown (between 1796-1866)