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The Greenhouse

by Adam Zagajewski

In a small black town, your town,
where even trains linger unwilling,
anxious to be on their way,
in a park, defying soot and shadows,
a gray building stands lined with mother-of-pearl.

Forget the snow, the frost’s repeated blows;
inside you’re greeted by a damp anthology of breezes
and the enigmatic whispers of vast leaves
coiled like lazy snakes.  Even an Egyptologist
couldn’t make them out.

Forget the sadness of dark stadiums and streets,
the weight of thwarted Sundays.
Accept the warm breath wafting from the plants.
The gentle scent of faded lightning
engulfs you, beckoning you on.

Perhaps you see the rusty sails of ships at port,
islands snared in rosy mist, crumbling temples’ towers;
you glimpse what you’ve lost, what never was,
and people with lives
like your own.

Suddenly you see the world lit differently,
other people’s doors swing open for a moment,
you read their hidden thoughts, their holidays don’t hurt,
their happiness is less opaque, their faces
almost beautiful.

Lost yourself, go blind from ecstasy,
forgetting everything, and then perhaps
a deeper memory, a deeper recognition will return,
and you’ll hear yourself saying: I don’t know how–
the palm trees opened up my greedy heart.

read at St. Lydia’s on January 16

Posted in: Poems

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