Excerpts > Fall 2002

Roy Jacobstein


The finches must be migrating North again.
There!, someone points, and at last I see it

in the quivering backdrop of backlit leaves --
and immediately I think of my mother

because it's the color she called chartreuse,
looking up at me from her magnifying glasas

and sheaf of French exams to affix that word
to the '58 Chevy my father brought home.

Everything was a forest then, impenetrable
as the upper Amazon, our modern parents

raising us beneath the icy aegis of science:
it wasn't pee-pee and poop, it was urinate

and defecate, penis and vagina, yet never
a hint of the mechanics or mess of sex, so

what else could I do but attend med school
to learn left supra-clavicular notch

was the name for that soft indentation above
the collarbone whence I'd thought for years

babies must come, knowing even then
they must come from somewhere deep

within the woman's body. Yes, it was all
so abstruse, but now my dictionary yields

memory's precise hue -- it's a clear light green
with a yellowish tinge, color of the aromatic

liqueur made by the Carthusian monks
at Grenoble, France
and you ease its top

shoulder down and bottom shoulder up
to guide it safely from the birth canal, out

into this numinous world of sun and finch,
Amazon and oak, of stillness and motion,

nest and migration, of source and shadow,
instrument and accident, of holding on

and letting go.

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