Friday, February 14, 2014

Kevin Hart: "The Gift"

One day the gift arrives — outside your door,
Left on a windowsill, inside the mailbox,
Or in the hallway, far too large to lift.

Your postman shrugs his shoulders, the police
Consult a statute, and the cat meows.
No name, no signature, and no address,

Only, “To you, my dearest one, my all . . .”
One day it all fits snugly on your lap,
Then fills the backyard like afternoon in spring.

Monday morning, and it’s there at work —
Already ahead of you, or left behind
Amongst the papers, files and photographs;

And were there lipstick smudges down the side
Or have they just appeared? What a headache!
And worse, people have begun to talk:

“You lucky thing!” they say, or roll their eyes.
Nights find you combing the directory
(A glass of straw-colored wine upon the desk)

Still hoping to chance on a forgotten name.
Yet mornings see you happier than before —
After all, the gift has set you up for life.

Impossible to tell, now, what was given
And what was not: slivers of rain on the window,
Those gold-tooled Oeuvres of Diderot on the shelf,

The strawberry dreaming in a champagne flute —
Were they part of the gift or something else?
Or is the gift still coming, on its way?

"The Gift" by Kevin Hart, from Flame Tree: Selected Poems. © Bloodaxe Books, 2003.

Image credit: Untitled painting by Melodie Provenzano (originally color).

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