“Red Camellias ” by Virginia Hamilton Adair

Virginia Hamilton Adair


You going ahead of me
down unlighted stairs …
but waking in our window
the lawn green through red & white
camellias, I know neverness.
It was a dream. Nine years
since you saw the sun rise, gold spill
through leaves, over lawns. My face
has grown old, knees stiffen
making ridiculous my love
of racing barefoot.
In the kitchen I drink coffee
eat peanuts, read a clipping:
“Robert Mezey likes it here.”
Run upstairs to reopen
pages of an earlier world
pure forms, forgotten games.
To survive we must unlearn much.
Lovemaker, wandering Jew,
did you see them plain
my friends, foes, mentors
Gordon & Roberta of “Kenyon Canyon”?
To be acclaimed young is heady
later on a drag.
The camellias are dropping,
structures & colors come apart.
I salute you, not-quite-stranger.
Poets still coast into day on dreams
drink coffee with the dead
write letters they never send.

from Rattle #7, Summer 1997


Virginia Hamilton Adair: “The advice I had for poets in my classes was: You are the poet, what you think, what you do is unique. Nobody else can do it.”

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