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Guest Poet David Cowen

Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Miller

We are a scented bouquet
arranged in a basket of Chippendale chairs
pulled forward to the round maple table;
a spotted silver pot
with roses on its handles
smokes spice and orange;
Mrs. Miler's favorite tea.

Mama is a single-stemmed carnation,
pink in her dress of small print flowers;
uncomfortable on the red hardened cushions
nailed to the seat;

Mrs. Miller is frail lily;
long fingered and angel's breath hair;
comfortable with the locale;
this is her garden.

A plate of small jellied cookies
waits on the table;
I wait too;
a dried seedpod in stiff shirt and creased pants,
scratching my ankles with my heels.

"Latin is a beautiful language", Mama says,
sipping orange brown from her cup;
"Its not the same to understand the words,"
Mrs. Miller responds,
reaching for a bitter lemon to squeeze
into her opalescent cup.

Afternoon shadows stretch over
hanging ivy and potted figs;
Mama and Mrs. Miller ponder the shifting Roman winds;
the sweet wafers remain just beyond my reach.

May, 2002

David Cowen's questions:

In this piece I am trying to convey several layers of meaning. There is a religious layer which some people have told me they do not really get. Is the religious references regarding the old Latin Mass, and the parallel regidity of the porch scene too obscure for the reader to connect with?

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