Sketchbook: Naples, Florida

By ROBERT CORDING

 

The royal palms bathe in the soft warm air
of February and everywhere I look there is the play 
of glittering afternoon light—on store windows
and metal bistro tables, on the well-polished 
always white Mercedes and Lexuses, on the sorbet
pinks and oranges and lime greens of faux-Spanish
buildings. The most ordinary things here seem
make-believe, outside of time, like images projected
on a screen and, for now, this Lotus-land
of ease and assurance serves my hazy recollections 
of contentment, my need to push away death, 
even if its reminders are everywhere—
in consignment shops lining the highways, 
and, here, on Fifth Avenue where the aptly titled 
Provident Jewelers keeps buying up 
the best silverware, china, and jewelry of 
the newly dead. For now let this be
another piercingly blue day in Florida, 
clear as a mirror unstained by reflection.
Let the live oaks translate the breezes off the Gulf
and let the idle days pile up like cocktails
at Happy Hour, and strollers in twos and threes
mosey in and out of street-side boutiques 
and restaurants, content with the intricate evasions 
of shopping and the driest white wines.
I’ll have another gin and tonic and act as if 
I’d stumbled into someone else’s reassuring dream
where any minute now my dead son will stop by
for a drink with me and, together, we’ll watch 
the sun dawdle on the horizon of the Gulf, 
this day sketched by sunlight on the threshold of dying.

 

 

Robert Cording has published nine collections of poems, the most recent of which are Only So Far and Without My Asking. A new book on poetry, the Bible, and metaphor, Finding the World’s Fullness, came out in 2019. His poems have appeared in publications such as The Nation, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Poetry, The Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, New Ohio Review, New England Review, Orion, and Best American Poetry 2018.

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Sketchbook: Naples, Florida

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