Poetry Offerings from Miriam Sagan
 
SAN FRANCISCO
 

because we are middle aged
because it is raining
because our old lovers have new lovers
because there are blue iris in a vase
a childless woman has placed properly on a table
because the little girls
have picked bouquets of freesia for the picnic cloth
because we are middle aged in the city of San Francisco
all our old lovers have new lovers
who we must sit down and eat with
cold noodles with dipping sauce
a freshly steamed whole salmon
because we are tourists
in our own pasts
because we are houseguests
we sleep on overly hard futons
our child on the floor
because we must be cordial on the telephone
to everyone's ex-spouses
because we must admire lemon trees
grown in half barrels
because we see the suffering of others
because we see the suffering of ourselves
because the little girls stuff bouquets into water glasses
because we are middle aged
because this is San Francisco
because we will never be younger
because this is a city of flowers
because the homeless man sits in the fuschia pavilion
because this is the city of St. Francis
because we cross the curved bridge together
because...

 
REMARRIAGE


My second husband says
He wishes my first husband
Would get married again--

My first husband
Has been dead three years,
And I dream about him.

At first, he was angry,
Or calling on the phone
Wanting to come home

But I was already
With the man who would become
My second husband.

Recently, I began to dream
My dead husband was dating
A very pretty--

But obviously not Jewish--
Blonde woman,
She seemed very nice.

My second husband
Was getting sick of my dreams--
He said he hoped they'd get married.

In my next dream
My first husband told me
He was indeed marrying her

But he enraged me
By inviting his sisters
But not our daughter to the wedding.

My friends politely mention
They think I am in denial
After all, my first husband

Is dead, not getting married.
But it is as if
He has some kind of life

That goes on without me
Perhaps because I have had
So much go on without him.

 
EMPTY ORCHESTRA
New Year's Eve on an island in the middle of
Nowhere, suddenly aware of being surrounded
By Pacific Ocean I stumble
For a moment in the crowd
In Lihue by the federal building
Palm trees outlined in fairy lights
Each bend and curve decorated in rain-dark night
We're strolling arm in arm
At the hula tent, two men
In mustaches and grass skirts
Gesture, a hula of waves and farewell
While on the karaoke stage
A middle-aged Japanese lady
Not much older than me
Sings a halting, if competent
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
And suddenly I'm crying
Real tears on my cheeks
But from the gospel tent
Upbeat ecstasy from Hawaii Catholic Church
What the world is coming to is this
And on the hula stage, now real hula
The Aloha Airlines baggage handler
Playing a mean bass
My second husband notes
My first husband would have loved this
If he weren't dead, that's
Why I'm dancing with you instead
To a strange Cuban/Puerto Rican band
In stranger purple lounge outfits
They're not bad
For Latin music out of Hilo
Back at Karaoke, three dark haired girls
Sisters or friends, who have rehearsed
Sing as The Supremes
Really, I'm very happy to be here
Displaced as always, a desert wandering Jew
And really, I'm happiest
To be with you
While the ocean around us
Wants someone to sing windward
Provides our own
Empty orchestra.
Copyright - 1998 Miriam Sagan             More Mariam
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