The shadow of a tiger swallowtail crosses my legs; I’m in the sunroom, reading,
when the phone rings. It’s 1 pm. There’s a man on the other end asking for Pomona.
His voice isn’t urgent or pleading, just a little gravelly, and matter-of-fact.
I tell him there is no one here by that name. But he simply insists, Pomona.
For a minute I consider asking him if he knows that is the name of the goddess
of fruitful abundance; in tapestries she presides over a cornucopia: Pomona.
But I hang up after saying Sorry, wrong number, and think no more of it. Until
the very next day at 1 pm, the phone rings again and it’s him, asking for Pomona.
And it goes on for weeks after this. I’m convinced even on days when I’m not home,
the yellow phone in the sunroom rings at 1 pm: it’s the caller looking for Pomona.
I’ve tried to tell him to stop calling, that no other woman lives here but me. I
write poems. I grade papers. I don’t make enough money. My name is not Pomona.
The teakettle whistles on the stove in alarm. I butter my toast and spoon
some apricot jam, wondering if they’re friends or lovers, this man and Pomona.
I’ll stop sometimes when I’m out in the city: that dark-haired woman running
in the rain, into the arms of a man at the stop— is that him, is that Pomona?
I water orchids in the sunroom, straighten books on shelves; dust photographs
of my daughters when they were younger. Do any of them resemble Pomona?
She married Vertumnus (the goddess, I mean; not this mystery girl): he tricked her,
disguised as an old woman. I wonder what she’d look like in drag, this Pomona?
Call the police, my friends say; call missing persons. But I’m hesitant. Did she
want to be found, did she want to disappear? Ah this man, this caller. And Pomona.
~ with thanks to Tammy Ho Lai-ming for the germ of the story
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Bel Canto
- In the Summer Capital
- The Hourglass
- Frost has silvered the grass
- Fragment of a Poem Disguised as SPAM
- Clear bulb of coral inside a paper shade,
- Private: Translucent in the sun, the laurel is a blaze of gloss—
- Kissing the Wound
- Fire Report
- Dear animal of my deepest need, you want to linger
- Ghazal, a la Cucaracha
- Heartache Ghazal
- Ghazal: Some ways to live
- What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
- A single falling note above
- La Caminata
- Dear nearly weightless day,
- Ghazal of the 1 o’clock caller looking for Pomona
- Breaking the Curse
- Milflores, Milflores
- Bad Script
- Ghazal of the Eternal Return
- Letter to the Underneath
- Tall Ships
- Beneath one layer, another and
- Landscape, with Summer Bonfires
- Dear language, most thick
3 Replies to “Ghazal of the 1 o’clock caller looking for Pomona”
That was lovely. Now I want to know what happened . Did he ever find his Pomona – or did she give in and become her – or?
Hi Martha! thanks for reading. It is an intriguing story, isn’t it? I don’t know how it ends… it was related by another writer that I know and I ran with it in this poem. :)
This is really wonderful. I can’t quite explain why I like it so much. As a side note: this may be the first time I’ve ever really gotten what the form of the ghazal lets you do, though. (Usually I’m baffled by the form, as I still and always am by English haiku.) ((But are ghazals traditionally comic, ever?)) (((I better stop before I drown in my parentheses))).