I’m looking at a box of tissues.
It is my supermarket’s brand.
The photo on it is very beautiful and understated.
It shows a swan gliding from the left.
There are no words on the box.
In the background is a man in a rowboat.
He is so far off
That at first I thought he was in a kayak.
Both images are tiny.
The water is close and expansive and there are
Undulating mountains low in the background,
And as I say, there are no words.
(The barcode and the name of the store
Are printed on the bottom of the box.)
The box is mono-tone, mustard-yellow
Like just after the sun has set
And everything is saturated by the afterglow.
There are no waves, only stillness
And perfect reflections.
The subdued color enhances the feel of the scene.
I dreamed of a supermarket last night.
I was passing down spacious aisles
Crammed with food.
I was leaving the store without any items
And felt the need to explain to the cashier why
I wasn’t buying anything:
. . . Because our friends give us food
And because we grow just about everything we need.
In my dream the supermarket is closing for the day
And each time I list another food we grow
Another cashier disappears
Until there is only one checkout station left.
I know that when I leave
This last cashier will disappear.
It is July 1, 2016.
I am sitting outside on the deck
At a little round table with a madras tablecloth.
My wife and I eat breakfast outside
In the summer if the weather is nice.
We take turns cooking.
Her omelets are fluffier than mine.
(This morning I was the cook.)
When breakfast is over I notice a small crumb
Beside my plate on the tablecloth.
I press my finger onto it
And eat it.
(These days I am very careful not to waste food.)
And the taste that spreads over my tongue
Is a new taste.
It is nothing I had put in the omelet.
It has some of the east in it,
Some of the summer,
And some of the swan and the man in the rowboat.
It tastes exactly like today,
Even like this moment in time.
And I think,
If I could only slow my life down . . .
If many of us could slow our lives down . . .
There would be plenty of time
To make the world over
And even time to make it over again
And again after that if need be.
And just to make sure I’m not fooling myself,
I turn the box around
And it is the same scene but different:
The man is facing left in the rowboat
And the swan is swimming from the right.
And I think to myself,
I will have to write a poem about his,
Only what am I trying to say?