The Woman in the Hat

The woman in the hat has four months to live.
She leans against the baluster
and is kissed by a man.

They met at a gathering in her honor.
A house in a clearing with guests. Tables adorned
with fishbowls filled with flowers.

They talked in a room where the sun
grazed through a window.
She waited for the air to burst into rain.

The veins in her arm
map the tumult within.
She sweeps up her hair each morning.

She gives the man a box of photographs
he will wait years before he can open.
They make love. The box is under the bed.

Despite treatment and medication
her world is simplified. The calendars are hidden.
The days are unleavened bread.

She arranges her poems like the tarot.
Oblique is now prophetic. Unconscious
becomes an object ticking on the table.

The man holds the woman in the hat against his chest.
She is reconciling what's been tasted
with what will never be tried.

Tolstoy said the threads spin ceaselessly.
The screw never binds or grips.
We don't know why we're here.

Poems by John Waldman:

The Water Month
The Heat
Of Madrid
The Lake on the Border
The Woman in the Hat
The Jewelry Box
The Corner
Huber's Tavern
The House in the Town
From the Home of Furious Wonder
From What Is Left Behind
The Den of Finitude
The Story of a Mountain

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets