Minding Rites

By David Yezzi David Yezzi
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.

David Yezzi, “Minding Rites” from Birds of the Air. Copyright © 2013 by David Yezzi. Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: Birds of the Air (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2013)

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Poet David Yezzi

Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Relationships, Home Life, Men & Women

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 David  Yezzi

Biography

David Yezzi’s poetry collections include Azores (2008) and The Hidden Model (2003), and his criticism and poetry have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Best American Poetry. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Yezzi is Executive Editor of The New Criterion. He has also edited The Swallow Anthology of New American Poetry (2009). His libretto for a chamber opera by composer David . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Relationships, Home Life, Men & Women

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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