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Callaloo 24.4 (2001) 997-998

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Desk Dreams

Rita Dove

Tempe, Arizona
Honeyed wood with one eye widening the grain
just above my migratory pen.
I love this unconscious solitude--
the way whole afternoons belong to the cicada
calling down to her cousins in
yellow Mexico.

Paris, France

Midnight traffic from Gare du Nord,
surge and ebb of taxis and vegetable trucks
wafting through three stories of rain.
On the black desk, a full palette--
notebooks serving up their moonlit pages.
Places to get to:
Janis on the radio, nonstop blues.

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

White-bricked cell. One leafy
appreciative plant. Desk, general issue
and a balcony leading nowhere,
though the eye travels deep
into androgynous green.
Blue-ruled paper from grade school
days. I languish for hours
on the near side of a hyphen:
great expectations cut
by the call of a single prehensile jay. [End Page 997]

Bellagio, Italy

Not a studio so much
as an earthbound turret,
a periscope thrust
straight through the earth's
Yoo-hoo, anyone home?
The walls are sleek as a shell's.
A mile down the lake waits,
chill Cyclopean blue;
outside my door,
the coy glimmer
from the lesser mirror
of an artificial pond.
Is it true goldfish grow
to fit their containers?
Circles within circles:
I will write my way out on a spiral of poems.
Rapunzel, let down your hair.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Under crushed rafters you stand,
honey in the ashes.
All your plywood and crazed veneer aren't worth
the hourly wage of one of these men
in blue shirts, building boxes--Salvage Experts
trained in the packing of valuables singed by adversity
or anointed by the fireman's hose. I save you by begging
sentimentality--a female prerogative
I am grateful this once to claim, since tears
will not serve on a day as blue
as this one, the heavens scrubbed
and shining.

Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, is former Poet Laureate of the United States. Thomas and Beulah won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. Her seventh collection of poems, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, was published by W.W. Norton in 1999. Among the most recent of her many honors are the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, the 1996 National Humanities Medal, the 1997 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1998 Levinson Prize for Poetry magazine, the 2000 Library Lion medal from the New York Public Library and the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award in the Literary Arts. Ms. Dove's song cycle Seven for Luck, set to music by John Williams and featured with the Boston Pops on PBS, was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in July 1998, and her play The Darker Face of the Earth, has been performed at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Crossroads Theatre of New Jersey, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and the Royal National Theatre in London.



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