by Theodore Worozbyt
I didn’t listen to the glass.
This jar of nutmegs will
outlast me, no matter how
much I use. This white
dog licking my hand as
I write this; he seems to
be the rest of my life.
Behind me the black
dogs hover, being in
every moment gone.
The piano seems almost
to be playing itself,
the phrases repeating
tirelessly, until they begin
to see inside themselves
and thereby to recede.
A sunlight that is long
flickers across the leaves
and onto my books. Only
the portrait remains
solitary. Grief does
not end. Love does not
have an end. Only I
have now an aim solely
for myself. Surely
it is the same for you.
Some tilt of your head
in the light causes
a smile to fall across
a shadow, a high bone,
and what seemed so
then cannot any longer
make itself seem true.
Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 10, Number 1
Copyright © 2015
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
THE HOUSE OF ENG
by Theodore Worozbyt
Golden winter chinaberries I cut and kept
In a brassy teapot from The House of Eng by the Fox
Theatre on Peachtree St. got lost and my fingertips
Get oiled when I rub its belly, watering zebrinas.
My mother stole that teapot and your mother stole you.
The shrimps swam in lobster sauce and noodles fried yes yes.
Eight, I wore a brass-buttoned blue blazer at my own insistence, the buttons
Bas-reliefed with anchors. I was downtown, infinity standing up.
The messages were stamped into the heart-shaped candies
(And that’s how the dragon stepped: incarnadine, sharp-plumed, around the thick teacup)
When I was in school and X’s and O’s became February—no one didn’t get those—
Fortunes that tasted faintly like black licorice and declaimed forevers yours or mine.
What a little idiot, I drew you a Popeye robot and never showed it.
My spinach chews like it has a slickness way inside
That slides itself off into some other room of my body
Where a copyist is busy adding commas and changing posed to poised.
And today when Nurse in Day Surgery answered the phone still laughing
I learned how much her fear sounded like laughter.
Today it rained catkins in the park and couples
Quoted the soft wide field, their paper plates white dots on the grass.
And Nurse will give my wife a similar message in my thick-fingered accent.
And Doctor will firmly say No in the near future for the reason doctors often do.
Checks come in, they collect on my desk where I never speak,
Or the rolling kitchen table until I feel substantial. Their whispers mean
A hospital pillow’s linen, or the habitual opening of this
Bottle of fragrant nutmegs I bought ten, twenty years ago,
The truth is more like thirty, round numbers are figures of speech,
That is the one I will have as long as I have anything.
Nor yet have I resisted Outer Space with my back
Or composed the monograph making of Escoffier
A béchamel so slowly thickened it takes no flour, no stirring, no ashes.
Love steams from the lenses of our eyes, it does, and at the House of Eng
Bowls of rice taste precisely like water, only sweeter,
And the tea is thinly delicious, and the sugar itself hums somehow,
And had I raised a single termite with my boots
I would never have left you in that city
You never failed to emerge from like an arm though a broken mirror
You never failed to emerge from, blue
As the sky closest to the water but also you, and what that means.
Golden winter. Chinaberries.
Theodore Worozbyt’s first book, The Dauber Wings, was published
by Dream Horse Press in 2006 and won the American Poetry Journal
Book Prize. His second book, Letters of Transit, published by
University of Massachusetts Press, won the 2007 Juniper Prize. His
third full-length collection, Tuesday Marriage Death, is forthcoming
from FutureCycle Press. Worozbyt is also the author of the chapbooks
Scar Letters, which is online from Beard of Bees Press; Objectless
Fragments, which appeared in the premier issue of The Chapbook;
and The City of Leaving and Forgetting, which is available as a pdf
from Country Music. His writing has recently appeared or is
forthcoming in Antioch Review, Best American Poetry, Crazyhorse,
The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review 30 Year Anthology, New
England Review, Po&sie, Poetry, Quarterly West, Sentence,
Shenandoah, The Southern Review, and TriQuarterly Online.
On “The House of Eng”:
The House of Eng was the place to go for what was called Chinese
food in the 1960s in Atlanta. When my grandparents would come
to town, we would all go there, my father, his father and mother,
my mother, and me. I always ate the egg drop soup and for my
entrée the shrimp in lobster sauce, which fascinated me because as
far as I could see there was no lobster involved. I have a teapot
made of some sort of metal, aluminum but gold-colored, that
somehow made it home with us and that I have not lost. Perhaps
my mother stole it. This was a custom back then, to bring home
mementos from restaurants: matchbooks from Fan & Bill’s that,
once opened, revealed two tight rows of flat black wooden matches
tipped with gold-painted phosphorus; liquor glasses from Chateau
Fleur de Lis; other junk. How you get out with a teapot is anyone’s
guess. The last time I recall going there I was probably ten years
old, and for some reason I decided to dress. Everyone else was
casual, but I insisted on my blue blazer with brass buttons, and a
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