Giorni Poem By Edward Kleinschmidt Mayes
Gather the pears of St. Peter before the first vespa begins to suck,
out the white juice, and gather the nocciole on St. Philibert’s day,
hence their other name, before something I can’t see bores small
holes into the brown shells. The long cords of the families continue to
unravel, on one end a weight down an old well, green snakes at the bottom.
Gather cabbages when their outer leaves are large enough to wrap
a child in, or when one leaf can be floated in a bucket of water with a honey
jar on top. The recipes get longer when I want them shorter, shorter when
I want them longer. The moon is waxing and now what should I be gathering?
Gather the pomodori, sempre. Snap them off their thick green stems and eat,
the heat of them in your hands. Make a fist of your hand, make a hand of your
fist. What’s the first stop after death, or the next stop? I remember the years
I spent, cumulatively, below zero, frozen families. Then thawed families, gathering
for some reason, and then leaving, saying tanti auguri, and may there be one
hundred of these days. The sun gathers the darkness somehow because each
day here I sense two minutes less of light. Exactly two, as if someone holds
up two fingers and someone else in the control room nods. Gather the melone,
small and sweet, hundreds of seeds in the wet center. Think of the seeds
the families have sown, have scattered. It has been all of us here who have
gathered, even casually, such as, I gather that you’re in a hurry, I gather that
this is the last time we’ll see each other alive. It is I, talking, speaking correctly,
writing one last word followed by another last word. I somehow need to
gather darkness around me like the shield I want to be carried home on.
When we gather, we recognize what we’ve gathered. And all the days,
more than the one hundred, more than the thirty thousand we’ve been allotted,
all these days repeat this is us, it is you, here, it is I, here, sono io.
Edward Kleinschmidt Mayes
from Works and Days