What is your real name? I hate being called wife, without a name. I think you do too.

How do you feel with a mouth full of salt instead of the languid, tamarind language of your city? The city that sings to you and you the only one who hears her.

What does she sound like? Soprano or alto? Silk or broken windows? Do the cries of the market slide down her throat like tamarind or salt?

Does the gutter water taste like gutter or peppermint schnapps?

I think I could live married to my city as the queen or live lost and alone with no one but my city to comfort me.

When you died, when your city died, you were looking at each other.

What was that like?

(Photo Credit: Sodom’s destruction; Lot and daughters escapes. Dom von Monreale, Sizilien)

(after the death of Wislawa Szymborska, February 1, 2012)

I take the petit four

of your poem and put

it in my mouth;

let my tongue soak it up—

soft words



as a

spring weekend

—inhale the sugar flower.

The decadent scrim

of icing glosses over


“The sun rises and the sun

sets and I eat

this cake and you are

no longer in this world.

A violet grows on the verge

of a yard and a street;


crystallizes in another poet’s

greedy panting

despite your vacant house,

your supercilious cat

and your mouth that

will never eat cake again.

I am eating

cake and I am not

efficient. Pieces of your

poem clot against my teeth

and I cannot speak.