Almond Tea

            A kasen renku by Alexis Rotella, Michael Dylan Welch, Pat Shelley, and Florence Miller

 

Written 24 January 1994 at the home of Alexis Rotella in Saratoga, California. First published in Lynx XIII:2, June 1998, pages 34–35. Alexis wrote the first verse about me, starting us off very much in the moment on that crisp winter day on her deck and in her kitchen and dining room. The renku would have gone in an entirely different direction if I’d happened to have taken that almond tea.

 

 

Almond tea—

he’s happy just

inhaling it.                                                                                           Alexis

 

            sky in the spoon

            bubbles rise in the wine glass                                         Michael

 

sequoia seeds

so light

in her hair                                                                                            Michael

 

            feet cold

            the poems don’t come                                                      Pat

 

Hoot owl—

too early

for the moon.                                                                                    Florence

 

            shifting light

            we move inside                                                                    Michael

 

in the comfort

of her kitchen

seedless grapes                                                                                Pat/Alexis

 

            click of the furnace

            our rhythmic breathing                                                     Michael

 

the Mondrian

I leave it

tilted                                                                                                     Michael

 

            Earthquake

            the stars shake.                                                                    Alexis

 

pink ballet slippers

pointing

the same way                                                                                    Pat

 

            Under the dust ruffle

            a condom.                                                                               Florence

 

Jewish girl

she asks for

a communion dress.                                                                       Florence

 

            hanging over the freeway

            Cheshire cat moon                                                              Michael

 

placing logs

in the fireplace—

doorbell                                                                                               Michael

 

            Subpoena

            its moldy smell.                                                                     Alexis/Florence

 

shorn rose—

silver tracings

of the snail                                                                                          Pat

 

            newlyweds

            gone fishing                                                                           Michael

 

wet socks

on the closet floor

grandson’s visit                                                                                 Pat

 

            Root cellar

            white potato eyes.                                                              Alexis/Florence/Michael

 

snow on the sill . . .

cat turned

to the window                                                                                  Michael

 

            icicles

            still the chimes                                                                      Michael

 

Et cetera

my doctor uses it

again.                                                                                                     Alexis

 

            all through my dream

            the chattering squirrel                                                       Michael

 

Morning fog

the smell

of eucalyptus.                                                                                   Florence

 

            a gull’s cry

            over Alcatrazz                                                                        Michael

 

So long

the veil

of his ashes.                                                                                       Florence

 

            Two contrails

            become one.                                                                         Alexis

 

The moonstone

in my navel

surprises him.                                                                                    Alexis

 

            our empty teacups

            by the bed, rattling                                                             Michael

 

she leaves

her robe—

birdsong                                                                                              Pat/Alexis

 

            a crack in the pavement

            lesser bindweed                                                                  Pat

 

inside the gazebo

a bank

of dry leaves                                                                                      Michael

 

            carousel

            half the horses gone                                                          Michael

 

chalk outline

of the body

tiny                                                                                                        Michael

 

            A gray pigeon

            pecking Wonder bread.                                                    Alexis