Canzone―The Coffee House Opposite Ozaku Station


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"...the wood now knows
there is something to be gained through burning."
from Rumi, trans. by Jack Marshall


Always, there are lips― like those formed by edges of greens
and greys and browns in this room, or the lip
of that hill with the sunset behind it. Even this white china cup has a lip,
brown now from the liquid
which crossed its lip
to mine, wetting my lips
with good coffee the color of old wood.
It's expensive here, but I like this place―the wood
bar with the rounded lip
against which I can lean and cherish
the aftertaste of coffee, cherish


the last 20 minutes of sunlight, cherish
the end of this fine day. I wet my lips
with one last swallow. Ah. But sometimes
the work's to cherish
the hard-to-cherish,
like a memory that's stayed green
and raw with pain. Once, someone (No, be honest―something) cherished
left, taking my cherished
comfort. When the world turns liquid
with uncertainty, tolerence can come from a liquid
source, one I cherished
far too well. Locked twelve years in a wooden
barrel, it took the taste of smokey wood.


Not a bad way to die. But it would
have taken far too long. Despite the cherished
bliss and coma, I became a wooden
bell, tasting the air with a wooden
tongue, the clapper scouring the lip
with a dry wooden
lick, mourning the woods
from which I was cut green.
the color of living wood.
When sap's no longer liquid,
it becomes that which liquid


leaves behind. Liquid
leaves its bones behind. In wood,
leaves space which, once liquid-
filled, is full of loss. What's left to cherish?
Just this―the liquid
of living, whatever the taste. Consider the liquid
moves a tongue makes, touching lips
which then might touch other lips.
Watch those of the waitress, for example, those rolls of liquid
and muscle, supple and green-
scented by wintergreen


mints, green
with promise, maybe, maybe willing to be cherished
a little. Imagine a woman once loved for her coat, green
corduroy, knee-length and belted, worn over a lighter green
blouse, with a brown woolen scarf. She walks through a large wooded
park in early March. Her greens
foreshadow a green
spring. Now imagine this: cherished
though gloved touches, an implied cherishing,
not permanent, I've since learned, but green
then with potential. These fingers touched those lips
and all this led to other touches, other lips.


Later, I watched her lips
move as we walked by a grey-green
pond full of liquid
reflected trees. Then we stood at the edge of the woods
and watched that water ripple―icy and cherished.