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Christopher Apfelbach

Rookie (July 1,1990 / Burlington, VT)

For Mr. Collins


'You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.'
—Jacques Crickillon


You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the whiteness of a Sunday,
and the dog-eared dictionary.
You are the frost in sea-glass
and the fire cached in prairies.

But you are neither the nocturne
nor the impromptu of Chopin,
not the cedar grove's sway,
the vase of orchids in the hall.
And heaven forbid you should be
the clouds maturing into storm.
You'd be terrible at trying to be
the clouds maturing into storm.

On the off-chance that you are
the tubes of insomniac neon,
then you must also be
the quiet winter field,
and it would be foolish to assume that
you are not the salt and pepper shakers.

In the same culinary vein,
I'm pleased to report that I am
the basil growing against the garage,
the serpentine hiss of the wok,
the walnut and its hard little house.

And you have seen for yourself
that I am the haiku and the tanka,
the dash in a Dickinson poem,
and the sparrow hopping across the wet porch.

But you may rest easy while
you are the bread and the knife.
I would rather be the fork and the salad
than be the bread and the knife.
You cannot know how beautiful it is,
to know that you remain
the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and—
miraculously—the wine.

Submitted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
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