Friday, February 4, 2011
Note: the Cherry Road deli first appeared in my poem Creatures Of The Sea.
On Cherry Road, near Catalpa,
Is a little deli.
Joan of Arc leads her horse inside and down the narrow space between the counter and tables;
He is white and magnificent.
His hooves are loud on the tiled floor, his eyes large and brown, and he snuffles and tosses his head once
As if to say,
I am beautiful in my blue blanket with the gold fleurs-de-lis,
A fine steed for knight or saint.
Joan of Arc herself is tired and wounded, but her gentleness with her mount never fails,
And it hurts her to tie him up out back
Near the dumpsters.
When she comes back in, the Pretty Girls having lunch there say,
Look at her,
Joan of Arc cannot read the menu.
She pauses uncertainly, and the Pretty Girls giggle, just loud enough to make sure she hears.
Rod McKuen, the famous poet, owns the deli and he smiles as if he were a love poem himself;
When she hesitates, he suggests the roast beef on French loaf.
Rejuvenate the soul.
Revive flagging spirits.
He points to each one as if touching the well-loved skin of a long-time partner,
In gentle words that would make the hardest churchman weep.
The Pretty Girls are scandalized.
Open-mouthed, they look back and forth to each other.
He's talking to her.
With the weird hair.
Joan of Arc sheds holy tears.
Her wounded shoulder bleeds.
The drops fall to the glass of the deli case and form shapes--
Rod McKuen fixes her a sandwich with the same reverence he would use in composing verse,
Then slides it on a plate across to her
Along with a cherry Coke
As if it were the Host.
He adds an apple
"For your friend."
The Pretty Girls all get up and leave,
Their matching shoes and handbags from London making them look just like
A defeated army
In astonished retreat.