Zephyr

Donald Platt Click to read more...

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Donald Platt’s fifth book of poems, Tornadoesque, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press.  His sixth, Man Praying, will appear in 2017.  .  His fourth book, Dirt Angels, was published in 2009 by New Issues Press.  In 2011 he was awarded a second fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a third Pushcart Prize.  His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Salmagundi, Prairie SchoonerNotre Dame ReviewCrazyhorse, Ecotone, Black Warrior Review, Seneca Review, Southern Review and Best American Poetry, 2015.  He is a professor of English and teaches in the MFA program at Purdue University.

                             “Young and Tender
Zephyr Summer Squash Only $1.25 Per Lb.!”
                             says the sign

at the farmers’ market. Each one is a light-skinned zucchini
                             dipped halfway down
into a vat of bright yellow wax and then pulled out. I fill

                             a plastic bag
with these hybrid vegetables, take them home to Dana, who pours
                             them into a white

bowl, weighs one in her palm, and exclaims, “How beautiful!
                             They look like
incredibly innocent dicks!” She always blurts out whatever

                             comes to mind.
“Remember,” I ask her, “our first date at the Mine Shaft before
                             they changed its name

to Zanzibar’s?” Years later it became the Silver Fox. “We danced until
                             last call to the Neville Brothers.”
When Aaron sang “Amazing Grace” a cappella in his wavering

                             whisper tenor, everyone
stopped dancing and listened. “I remember when the Neville Brothers
                             were the Meters

and played Tipitina’s in the French Quarter,” replies Dana.
                             “I hung out
with Kurt Kasson & the Wheeler Sisters. They all lived together

                             at the corner of Desire
and Claiborne, but the band broke up. Joey sang such sassy scat!”
                             An investment banker now

for Smith Barney, Jo Ellen uses that velvet voice
                             on the telephone
to reassure her clients when their stocks go south.

                             She lent us
her New York City apartment for two nights on our honeymoon.
                             She had all her shoes

lined up, shelf after shelf in the walk-in closet—purple pumps,
                             blue high heels, orange sandals,
calf-length, white leather boots. I counted 77 pairs, which meant

                             that she could wear
each one four to five times a year. They’d never wear out.
                             Our honeymoon

was 22 years ago. Dana’s rheumatoid arthritis makes
                             her joints ache
when it turns cold. Her bones are our barometer. We are no longer

                             young and tender
zephyr summer squash. We listen to an old bootleg CD. Joey’s
                             high scatting harmonizes

with Lisa’s low silver notes on “What a Little Moonlight
                             Can Do.”
In 1973, everyone was 19 or 20. Whither with the summer

                             zephyr do we
zither? Late August’s full moon rises—golden zero on the night’s
                             black balance sheet.

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