To Elizabeth Bishop
Have you heard of the room
on 23rd street? It is a loosely kept secret,
a place where lost things go. Bundles
of faraway winters, scraps of a day
carefully folded, recipes, gossip sealed
in cellotape and staples, broken bridges
between mainland and green-blue orphan.
Have you seen how they hide, spill
out of each other? Read the ransom notes?
I need help, Elizabeth. I need to learn to wink
at lost letters, laughters, lovers ― your art
of letting continents slip through fingers
(no broken bones). I need the clocklessness
of missing pasts and futures. I need to throw
houses like boulders. I need not to chase
them down on all fours. Teach me your secret,
Elizabeth, how long does it take? I mean
the unstaining. How long for the melting
of little leaden balls lodged below ribs?
How long before faraway frost fades
into green? Before cellotape and staples
dissolve, before a letter is reborn
as spoon or jellyfish? How long, Elizabeth?
This poem was first published in the Spring 2014 issue of Vayavya