As we continue stepping through National Poetry Month, here’s another modern poem from the present day American poet, August Kleinzahler:
by August Kleinzahler
In the sleep that finally gives rest
I take the stairs slowly
out past the azalea dell and bison paddock,
out of view from the meadow,
and down through these rooms once more,
this endless house
under the lawns still wet from mist,
the root systems and mulch,
only to find you at a sales counter
arguing with a Russian woman.
Her English is rough but adequate,
your argument well-reasoned, controlled.
You will in the end prevail.
The salesclerk is charmed by the snatches of Russian
you mix into your conversation,
the garment exchanged for credit.
I seldom find you in these rooms anymore,
certainly not for months.
So when our eyes meet
you look momentarily bemused,
the shiver of surprise softening to pleasure.
You are lovely,
somewhat older than I remember,
business-like in a tailored suit.
Our conversation is courtly,
flirtatious in what we imagine an Old World way.
How strange to encounter you here
in this harsh light, the tableau
of a downtown department store with its cases
of perfumes, gels, and leather goods.
And how inexplicably refreshed I feel afterward
lying here alone,
awakened precisely as our commerce ended
by the shouts of children going to school.
Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, Poems, New and Selected
by August Kleinzahler, New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008, pp. 122-123