Author's Note: Lately I’ve found myself falling in love with some of our most famous poets all over again. It’s been wonderful, the way great artists whose work you’ve already spent a lifetime enjoying can still conjure within us a sense of wonder and enchantment. This trio of poems were all inspired by this feeling. I hope that my most recent book, Immigrant Songs (WordTech, 2019), is filled with the same type of joy that I’ve tried to articulate here.
I Met Walt Whitman
While sitting beneath
a cherry blossom tree in Central Park.
No, not that one.
The one in Huntington Beach, California,
next to the library.
He was listening to a blue jay sing,
& he asked me whether I thought
the Dodgers would make the playoffs.
There was less gray in his beard
than I would have expected,
& no sign of the butterflies
Garcia Lorca had once insisted
his hair contained.
When we began to walk
through the Enchanted Garden
he kept stopping each time
we encountered a new type of flower.
while feeding the swans
at the edge of the lake,
he said what the day needed
was a little bit of rain.
The rain arrived five minutes later.
“That took longer than usual”, he said.
“It must be the jet-lag.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
I arrived to find her lying beside
her swimming pool in upstate New York
while wearing a white sundress
& drinking a glass of red wine.
The Collected Poems of EE Cummings
lay across her lap,
& from somewhere inside the house
a Billie Holiday record was playing.
I asked her how warm the water was.
She told me to take off my clothes
& find out.
He stepped out of the sea
at precisely 4 p.m.
He wore a dark suit,
& it didn’t appear to be wet.
he ran his hands through his hair
& asked me what shore
he’d washed up on.
“Is that right?”, he answered
after I’d told him.
Clearly he hadn’t planned
on swimming so far.
But then again none of us do.
©2020 Kareem Tayyar
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