Good-bye Hello in the East Village 1993
Molly Peacock, Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002): 232-33.
2in JJ's Russian Restaurant. My old friend,
3who's struggled for happiness, insists
4on knowing why I'm happy. An end
5to my troubles of the century? "Listen, Molly, if I
6didn't know you so well, I'd think you were
7faking this good cheer," she says, her eyes
8bright openings like a husky's eyes in its fur.
9(My friend is half an orphan. It's cold in here.)
10The East Village shuffles past JJ's window,
11and we hear Allen order loudly in the ear
12of the waitress, "Steamed only! No cholesterol!"
13"I could tell you it's my marriage, Nita,
14and how much I love my new life in two countries,
15but the real reason," I beam irresistibly at a
16dog walker with 8 dogs on leashes in the freezing
17evening outside JJ's window where we sit,
18"is that I'm an orphan. It's over. They're
19both dead." Her lids narrow her eyes to a slit
20of half-recognition. "I couldn't say this," -- there!
21the waitress plunks two bowls of brilliant magenta
24-- only to you, who wouldn't censure me,
25since you've witnessed me actually fantasize
26chopping their heads from their necks from their limbs
27to make a soup of the now dead Them to feed
28the newly happily alive Me.
29An old order is dimmed,
30just as the U.S., its old enemy
32nearly wondering what a century's fuss
33was all about ... what was my fuss about?
34But even a struggle to the death is levelled
36in the glass of America has connected
37along a strip of this life to the window
38of JJ's restaurant connecting Nita and me, wed
39to the nightlife on Second Avenue, though
40in reflection only, the reflection that now perfectly
41joins Ginsberg with his steamed vegetables
42and us with our steamy borscht and pierogi
43to the ice-pocked sidewalk, God's table,
44full of passersby, pointing occasionally to Allen,
45joined now by an Asian boy, but more often
46just hurrying past in the cold as we eat
47the food of a previous enemy
48and find it brightly delicious -- it is meet
50the century's hours hurtling behind
52Old friends, we rest, not talking, well fed,
53since at this cold dark moment things are fine.
1] Allen Ginsberg: American beat poet (1926-97), author of Howl. Back to Line
22] borscht: (Russian) beet soup. pierogi: boiled potato dumplings with a cheese filling. challah: white leavened bread, eaten to celebrate the Jewish sabbath. Back to Line
23] Formica: an inexpensive plastic laminate to cover a table top. Back to Line
31] The U.S.S.R. disintegrated into many smaller countries in 1991, and the Cold War suddenly ended. Back to Line
35] bevel: oblique angle. Back to Line
49] it is meet / and right so to do: the congregation's answer to the priest when, during the communion, he says: "Let us give thanks unto our Lord God." Back to Line
51] snow-wake: spreading wave of snow left behind in the dogsled's track. Back to Line
Original Love (1995)
RPO poem Editors:
Copyright 2002 Molly Peacock: Cornucopia W. W. Norton. Permission to reproduce must be obtained from the publisher.