Xeriscape

New England Review - - Cultural History - Arthur Sze

When she hands you a whale ver­te­bra, you marvel at its heft, at a black

peb­ble lodged in a lat­eral nook; the hol­ly­hocks out the win­dow

stretch into sun­shine; a dic­tionary in the room is open to xeriscape;

the side­walk and gravel heat all day and re­lease warmth into the night;

the woman who sits and writes sees pressed aspen board, framers

set­ting win­dow head­ers and door jambs—here no po­lar bears rum­mage

at the city dump, no seal oil lamps flicker in the tide of dark­ness—

you know the in­flux of af­ter­noon clouds, thun­der, ball light­ning,

wa­ver­ing lines of rain that evap­o­rate be­fore they strike the ground,

as you care­fully set the whale bone on the glass ta­ble next to the tele­vi­sion.

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