Autumn 2000


D.H. Melhem



Time spaces:
clouds and smoke
walkers and riders, backs
dwindling into landscape,
those on the left, advancing
along fences, their time,
before buildings, their time,
with levels of people in them,
separately pacing.

Gulls like ducks float downriver. A boat
sails through its time.
One crabapple, unattained,
prolongs its season
on a topmost branch.
I too hold on
to images:

a pigeon's walk, how the head
dips forward at each step
that seeks the grass, how
its brown-and-white
feathers are patched
with purple, how the trees
align between breezes,
how a man, crash helmeted,
rides his bike, and a woman
moves in kneepads and armpads
toward a bench; how trust
settles here, in the sun,
on a promenade
reasonably smooth.

Bike rider pauses
to straddle the stone lookout,
and a woman, leashed dogs,
litter paper in hand (before
the public benches),
unleashes farther on

Paddle ball on the lawn divider.
To my conceptual eye:
the ball
permanently in air.

Late afternoon coolness
draws through the leaves another time.

DH Melhem has written four books of poetry, one novel, two critical works on Black poets, and a creative writing workbook. She has also provided chapters in seven books, including critical works and an encyclopedia, had a musical drama produced, and published over 50 essays. She has read across the country, in venues ranging from the Library of Congress and New York’s Town Hall to libraries, universities, schools and cafes.




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