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Susan Mitchell

I don't mean this as a command, though
if you want to wave to someone
there's no reason why you shouldn't.
I'll go on looking out this window, pretending
you're not here, not doing something
as ridiculous as jerking your hand
up and down. I'm devoted
to an enormous expanse of violet
which is how the Atlantic wants to be today.
Cutting across the violet are gigantic
stripes of green and within
the green stripes
which are swelling, breathing deeply, the sun
encaged like a canary.
If that's too difficult to visualize,
think of a green grape inside
lime Jell-O, the frigid
cafeteria air, the iced celery,
the chartreuse translucency
you are about to take into your mouth.
Its palpitations.
On the horizon is a freighter and maybe
this is what you have been waving at,
a very complicated rig
resembling the skyline of a major city
with smokestacks and fire escapes.
It reminds me of those complex
apparatuses Freud's patients dreamed about—
ingenous metaphors for the urinary tract
or genitals. There is even something red
on the rig like the wattles of a turkey.
But if you are not waving
at the freighter, then maybe
it's that sparkle jumping about
like batons, like rhinestone drumsticks.
My Atlantic is cat's-paw, a purpurate
empurpling into which I yearn
violently to be dipped,
rubbed against the many ink pads
of the ocean. But since the water
is violetted only from this distance, its methyls
dissolving as one gets close enough
to feel the scratch of floating sargasso
my appetite is impossible to gratify.
To come up close on such purples,
such spangles, we'd have to find some cheap
bazaar, a flea market where the heaps
of scarves, the gauzy, flimsy
costumes have been steeped
in Tyre, though once real kings and queens
went everywhere in such frieze and panelwork
with cloaks of night-sky and constellations.
I envy birds of prey, how they don't
waver as they come in close,
how they undress the tassels and pom-poms,
the nosegay heads, the lacework
of the little birds, how
they ankle and beak in furbelows
of blood. But hush. Here it comes, what
I've been waiting for, the smash
and loops of wave on wave,
this crested cobra
towering above. What membrane
keeps that transparency
from dispersing into the air the way
the juices of citrus,
tangelo or tangerine resist momentarily
the teeth, that holding back
to make it linger,
the pillow play of lip,
all that plumping before
it breaks?

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