In a piano bar one night
Winter I am reading Frank O’Hara in Moscow,
thinking of his samovar embroidered with basil
leaves and Ukrainian mottos. He called that poem
Poem, which makes me bold. I have a vodka drink
called the Raskolnikov in a piano bar one night,
with Piano Man in the background. I know how
absurd the whole anecdote is, but I swear it went
like that. I am pleased to have lived such a banal
moment, because it does not feel banal
as it happens: it sparkles, makes us laugh.
The endless series of fires inevitable in cities built of wood
I saw that in a Russian museum once, but I did not notice
what piece of art it described. I came home and Googled it:
the Great Chicago Fire, the Battle of Passchendaele,
and Hiroshima were the first results. We are made of things
that are meant to burn, and we build places like us, weapons
like us. I picture London during the Great Fire of 1666,
new September, not quite fall, late summer nights of flame
and star. Fire means warmth as much as destruction, means
light, heat. Caught in that fire, I would have been grateful.
for leaving Ohio in the spring
Snowbelted bellwether and land
of scarlet carnations where vagrant
dawn anointed the turnpike while
I fiddled with satellite radio
and hangover Corn quilts folded green
and gold over asphalt thoroughfares behind
the rental car Where I read Faulkner
in the grass and breathed Compson
flowers and mine Skipped
class to swim in teabrown lakewater swift
and peaceful above secret places Rolled filters
with Joni Mitchell on and mixed weed
and chamomile through Scranton Lost outside
the mailbox Come home become fraternal twins
in the mouth of English Sideshow sisters
who will never sound the same
San Luis Obispo
Neon fruit supermarket, cobblestones loosed
under sandalfeet, peeing next to postcards. Felt
like nowhere at first step, but December peaches
with their fingerprinted hearts, red and white like
Shakespeare roses, convinced us. Reversing our
watches. Lightdrenched velvet melting rental car
bones. Trees leaning close to tell their green, green
secrets to the street. Falafel at wooden tables, manna
and Diet Cokes, dreamcatcher that danced. With
headaches selfconscious looking at the full moon.
Jesus invents the tightrope on the sunhonored Galilee.
We split five bottles of wine at the hotel bar somewhere
between home and not. People said I would feel
here. In Tzfat we watch a tallit weaver, eat our street food
perched on cold stone steps. Uneven narrow lanes remind me
of Venice, also a place December showed me, when I was 14.
I wear rose perfume from Paris—strange to think of other
places, but also comforting, so far from all things familiar.
A man lingers in our section
at the Western Wall, taking pictures, and for the first time
I can appreciate how this might be a home somehow, now
that I have felt it disrupted.
Annie Diamond graduated from Barnard College in 2015, and was a Winter/Spring 2016 fellow at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. This fall she starts her MFA in poetry at Boston University.