We talk the things we know,
the tapestry chair, the leather
futon, the fold-out couch;
serve coffee, tea, clear spring water;
fill ashtrays with Abyssinian phrases.

The elephant foot umbrella
stand cues the potted palm,
antimacassars absorb their own secrets.
These are foreign words we sit among,
you and me, birchwood rocking chair,
the cadence of a planked floor.

You speak to me of the willow tree,
trailing grace, a sweeping paradox.
Phototropism gone awry, the explosion
of taproot grown upward into a hair-thin mat,
the ability to tread water, breathe air, carve stone;
riverbeds and dry gorges, hand-knotted silk rugs,
a braided one made from the old woolen coats of ancestors.

The ambiguity of these lines is intentional.
I weep as I write them, not knowing why.
The rocking chair makes the same sound,
the runners of a sled, snow and sand.
Tomorrow I will speak with Lawrence,
and it will be the same, the echo of rooms
treading on pools of color shot through
leaded glass: ruby, cobalt, gold.

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