This red oak table has no memory.
Its mother was a tree
who needed earth, water, and sunlight,
a forest’s love of sunlight we can envy.
Trees are deaf to birdsong,
dead trees cut into boards join
celebrations beyond their understanding:
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover suppers.
A hundred years from now
I’d rather be an antique table
than Yorick’s distant cousin.
No living tree is indifferent, casual, or half-hearted.
Never indifferent, Voltaire could not forgive
the Jews for giving France Christianity.
Surely he would rather be a Revolutionary table
in the year of our Lord 2016
than a Louis Quatorze table under a chandelier.
I believe there is a battle between
the kitchen table, bimah, and altar.
The kitchen table
that serves food to hungry strangers wins.
An Old Marriage
I see summer where the winter was,
time, a fish breaking water.
You say time is never surprising.
I say it is like an idea come out of nowhere.
You say, ‘in the beginning was . . .’
I don’t listen. Nowhere is a lie.
Winter is where summer was,
they remember each other.
Look, a cardinal just flew past my frosty window.
I am wrong talking like this, I say
summer resembles winter,
a hellish icy cold memory.
If they could speak
and we could hear them, they might just
be comedians (spring and autumn tragedians):
‘You’re too hot.’ ‘You’re too cold.’
‘A little more respect,’ winter says,
‘because I am older than you.
Summer, you play me
in Australia and Argentina.’
Reader, I am content with all seasons,
truest words first spoken
Although summer and winter
may wear each other’s clothes,
only the mostly blind
confuse the sun and the moon.
There are summer prayers and winter prayers.
There will always be, as long as the weather changes.
There are the lawless luxuries of love poems,
and there are poems of disagreement
that get down in the gutter and fight.
Stanley Moss, born in NYC 1925, enlisted in the US Navy, aged 17. His books are published in the UK by Anvil and Carcanet: The Wrong Angel, The Skull of Adam, The Intelligence of Clouds, Asleep in the Garden, A History of Color, Songs of Imperfection, Rejoicing, God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike, No Tear is Commonplace, It’s About Time, and forthcoming Almost Complete Poems (Carcanet). A private dealer, largely in Spanish and Italian old masters, he is publisher and editor of Sheep Meadow Press, a nonprofit press devoted to poetry. He was educated at Trinity College and Yale.