Poetry

 
from Fall 2005 [Issue No. 8]

Character Sketch

Brooke Palmieri


    

Not too tall for an Englishman;

his bowler hat wouldn't catch in your doorway.

"You don't say!" he'll remark when surprised,

"I think I can," he'll murmur when he can

and when he cannot.

 

On holiday in Norway

his wife (whom he loved for being unwise

and green-eyed) accidentally ran

her automobile off a precipice.

In the shower he sobs about it

 

to himself in retches and shakes.

His graying mustache is passive-aggressive.

His love of books surpasses

most other romantic pursuits he might undertake.

His ties are all solid greens.

 

He has been known to tell

his favorite nephew, on his knee,

with a waltz on the radio, "History

and its folly can be condensed

to the interval between two prepositions:

 

About and From."

His mustache agrees wholeheartedly.

"We learn about History,

or we learn from it." The nephew

ponders that profound juxtaposition

 

of words and then the meaning

of juxtaposition. He's seven

(and a half!) and too young to take

showers. His uncle doesn't know

that he wants to be

 

an astronaut. Most uncles aren't aware

of these things anyway. At night the

uncle throws cold water on his face,

folds his trousers on their crease,

presses tomorrow's shirt,

 

eats his dinner alone with a place

for himself and his deceased set. He takes,

then, the evening paper and arranges

all of the tragedy between

the prepositions "About" and "From."

 

Sleeping he dreams of having

his hair caressed by his neighbor,

a woman with green nails from Norway

who in the dream at the time

isn't really his neighbor, but is,

 

Then bees sting him and he's awake.

Under his bed the baseball bat

(a talisman against robbery) hums sympathetically

to his touch and agrees, wholeheartedly,

"Dreams are odd; about nothing and from nothing."



 

 

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