No one promised there would be signposts.
So I found my way best, closing my eyes
and trying to recall what stood there
the last time— a pair of ancient magnolias
crowding the scrap of yard, machine shop
on the street corner. Rows of apartments
painted ghastly pink next to the yellow
shingled hotel. When I sat down to dinner
in the Japanese restaurant, before tea
was poured I recognized the paneling,
the wide fireplace studded with river stones;
stands of ancient bamboo on the periphery—
how did it come to pass that price lists
for hibachi and all-you-can-eat lunch
were pinned beside the stately double doors?
Someone, something else lived there before,
wanting a quieter life. In the taxi,
the radio was on: a voice speaking of how
fakery abounds— unless you have
an expert eye, it’s hard to tell
if a deep red carpet scrolled with vines
and curling branches was woven in Iran
or China. Bounty of fruit spread out
at every stall in the crowded streets—
muskmelons, sapodillas, masaflora;
and always, in the middle of them all,
one cheek cut open under a plastic film
as though to swear: surface matches surface.
In response to Via Negativa: Cezanne's Doubt.