“Minding Rites” by David Yezzi

by on 18/01/13 at 4:34 pm

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David Yezzi’s long-anticipated third full-length collection of poems, Birds of the Air, is now available for preorder at Amazon.com. Pick it up! Click on the embedded Amazon page below to buy now.

This guy I know, a rabbi, Friday nights,
on his way home before sunset in winter,
always stops at a florist or bodega
and buys a bunch of flowers for his wife.

Every week the same, a ritual,
regardless of her mood that morning, fresh
upsets at work, or snarling on the bridge;
he brings her roses wrapped in cellophane.

But isn’t there a ring of hokiness
in that? Why should a good man have to show
his devotion? Some things go unspoken;
some things get tested on the real world,

and isn’t that the place that matters most?
So when you told me I should bring you flowers,
I joked, “But don’t I show my feelings more
in dog-walks, diapers, and rewiring lamps?”

The flowers, I learned later, weren’t for wooing,
not for affection in long marriage, but
for something seeded even deeper down,
through frost heaves, and which might be, roughly, peace.

(It’s funny that I just assumed romance.)
Now there’s no peace with us, I wonder what
they might have meant to you, those simple tokens,
holding in sight what no rite can grow back.

Original appearances in the New Ohio Review and Best American Poetry 2012.

Birds of Air


Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is founder of E-Verse Radio.

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