Thursday, October 16, 2008

Billy Collins and synchronicity

I love Billy Collins' poetry and eagerly awaited his new book of poems titled Ballistics.

This morning I received an update from Jess on GoodReads about a book she just finished and gave 4 stars by an author I'd never heard of named Jose Saramago.

Just a few minutes later, I read this poem in Ballistics

Old Man Eating in a Chinese Restaurant

I am glad I resisted the temptation,
if it was a temptation when I was young,
to write a poem about an old man
eating alone at a corner table in a Chinese restaurant.

I would have gotten it all wrong
thinking: the poor bastard, not a friend in the world
and with only a book for a companion.
He'll probably pay the bill out of a change purse.

So glad I waited all these decades
to record how hot and sour the hot and sour soup is
here at Chang's this afternoon
and how cold the Chinese beer in a frosted glass.

And my book - Jose Saramago's Blindness
as it turns out - is so absorbing that I look up
from its escalating horrors only
when I am stunned by one of his arresting sentences.

And I should mention the light
which falls through the big windows this time of day
italicizing everything it touches -
the plates and teapots, the immaculate tablecloths,

as well as the soft brown hair of the waitress
in the white blouse and short black skirt,
the one who is smiling now as she bears a cup of rice
and shredded beef with garlic to my favorite table in the corner.

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