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9/11 Poem from THE HIDDEN MODEL
by David Yezzi

David Yezzi's books include the poetry collections Sad Is Eros (Aralia Press) and The Hidden Model, TriQuarterly/ Northwestern University Press, www.nupress.northwestern.edu . He has edited a compendium of American poetry titled, The Zoo Anthology of Younger Poets, for Zoo Press. Mr. Yezzi is an associate editor of Parnassus: Poetry in Review and Director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York City. He lives in Manhattan with his family

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

                        Confetti in the streets
coagulates like spoors of dragon’s blood,
running gold and purple underfoot,
as the horse-year stumbles beneath the ram-year
                and fire spills from children’s hands.
                        We’ve come too late to see


                        the pageant go. This codicil
of scraps, of gaping faces glowing past,
points away from celebration, back
toward street-ruin and spiking temperatures,
                as the old year slackens and rasps.
                        Downstairs, we take a corner


                        in your usual noodle shop.
Tables are manic now with revelers
sluicing tea. Lazy Susans grind.
Bowls of duck and shredded pork perform
                in a theater of plenty, while,
                        streetside, crowds plod north.


                        And like all those who come back
from the dead, you are a day-lit phantom,
somnambulant, with twitching hands and dust
caked in livid hair. I’m glad you lived,
                that you scraped through when thousands died
                        and war rooted in frozen earth.


                        I tell you how in dreams
I watch an acrid fire-cloud consume
the sky-high island, covering the park
and leaving nothing breathing after it.
                And you, who saw such things for real,
                        no longer dream, you say.


                        Outside, I buy a dragon
for my daughter, just turned one. Its eyes are jewels
of plastic gold set in papier-mâché
and bordered with a feather-boa mane.
                She understands nothing of dragonkind—
                        the ones that mark the year


                        with undulating scales and mirth,
and those that come by night, coiling around
some nameless prey, darkening her sight
in soot. And will it quiet her, sweet girl,
                to hear it’s gone, just shadow-play, like smoke,
                        from fires hissing out?


Copyright ©2003 -2004 by David Yezzi. All rights reserved by the author. First appeared in THE HIDDEN MODEL, TriQuarterly / Northwestern University Press, 2003. www.nupress.northwestern.edu

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