Thank you for the dead geranium, red
memory of a short-stemmed city.
For nickel shows, tea rooms, the rotten-egg
mill-smell that crept between the fretted sheets.
For elms that divided our limbs with dusk,
and twisted things in ash trays, girls lit with gin,
long trains moaning, the night in a plum.
Thanks, too, for captured Kaiser helmets stowed in attics,
the Alligator Man and Monkey Woman at the circus,
and rented clarinets, and dented trombones,
ladies in a savage dance, hair bound high.
Thanks, perhaps, for noon, the dark bird’s love call,
being born on ice, out of wolf, wolf.
For the stately progress of capped men
towards a gray chowder, something shaken by the gills.
And all that we devoured, and all that didn’t drown.
-- Claudia Burbank
The poem first appeared in Smartish Pace.