The Treachery of Images

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Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

“The cell phone lot”

Planes fly in overhead
while I wait in the cell phone lot
between the highway
and the airport
my brother in the sky
descending, Paul Simon on
the radio. A song about
angels, about time.

Six cars in the lot beside me.
Dark interiors, no one
visible behind the glass.
Paul Simon says
he writes only when he knows
it is true. Ten to
midnight and this sounds
good until I consider
his discography: a lot of
words, Simon. I wonder
in your confidence.

But the music:
he’s right. It is
the only song for now
alone in the cell phone lot.
The plane
now on the tarmac
a mile away
rolls to the terminal.
And I start the car
leave with the others
lights on in the dark
as we hurry to collect
those people waiting
for us at the curb
looking for our headlights
becoming brighter, sharp,
out of the distance,
this poem already existing
in a place between me
and where it is n

Oranges

Oranges

Warm nights have arrived, that let you sink
into them like a bath: tepid, then
chilly if you rise into a current of air.
Flowers bloom even at night, here.
Cacti curl out over the paths.
We walk, my brother and I: after
wine, after spaghetti. He makes it the
way our mother does. I never quite
got the trick no matter how much she
tried to teach me. The recipes another
thing between us, curled paper with
loopy handwriting I couldn’t read.

41st Street, 40th. I’ve never lived in
numbers so high. Which means
nothing, of course, only what I
want it to, the same as what I
say about the cacti—like spongy
seaweed—or the bathwater—like a
mirror, like a salted sea—
like, like: all I can do is compare.
What are the words for a thing?
For this warm air, this graveled
alley. For my brother, my mother.
Peel a thing like an orange and
palm the pips (again, like), the smallest
piece before nothing. Look.
This is an orange.

But what then? Seeds in your hand:
teeth-nubbins, yellow-white.
There is no way to unknow what it
will be. First flowers unfold, then
gold: orange: a fruit. Sweet clear
taste. A soccer field years ago, green
grass-stained knees and a single slice,
sticky juice. Geese overhead. This is
an orange.

So what is tonight? Dinner with
my brother, a meal our mother
used to make. Hot wind, green
things growing. I won’t ask for more
or add anything else.
I’ll wait until the rind drops off
on its own.