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Do you know the way to Ziq-Zhafei?

A poem in kviðuháttr meter
by Michael Helsem


                                     This night last
on a side lane
off Greenville
                                     our progress stayed --
                                     such a sweet
fragrance to swim,
lured beneath
                                     the amber lamp
                                     we stood where
strongest it swarmed.
You said, "Mmmm --
                                     I recalled
my night classes,
climbing down
                                     the vine-draped slope;
                                     & you too
remembered time
                                     for years unsealed,
                                     told me how
the kids would taste
                                     its stems let low.
                                     But I glanced
up at a branch
                                     gold in that light
                                     & pulled down
a petal clump:
drank in quite
                                     another draught
                                     than what we
had whispered of.
"It's this tree
                                     entranced our thoughts ...
                                     Something like--"
"Cherry," you said,
who disliked
                                     its hearty fruit.
                                     There we were,
made chumps by
                                     a cherry tree.

Copyright © Michael Helsem, 1986.