More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.

Also by Henri Cole:
Childlessness (1997)
Horses (1996)

The Atlantic Monthly | December 2001
Black Camellia

by Henri Cole
audioear pictureHear Henri Cole read this poem (in RealAudio)

after Petrarch

Little room, with four and a half tatami mats
and sliding paper doors, that used to be
a white, translucent place to live in refined poverty,
what are you now but scalding water in a bath?
Little mattress, that used to fold around me
at sunrise as unfinished dreams were fading,
what are you now but a blood-red palanquin
of plucked feathers and silk airing in the sun?
Weeding the garden, paring a turnip, drinking tea
for want of wine, I flee from my secret love
and from my mind's worm—This is a poem.
Is this a table? No, this is a poem. Am I a girl?—
seeking out the meat-hook crowd I once loathed,
so afraid am I of finding myself alone.

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Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; December 2001; Black Camellia; Volume 288, No. 5; 92.