SOBER SOLSTICE by Brian Glaser

—In bent is straight

—Lao Tzu

We laughed about it, for a while,
Andoe and John and I,
how it would be just like me
to write a poem about the acorns they gathered
from the oak-ground
under the orange and yellow leaves
on the white wood of the birches
on this December afternoon
after we left the house so Maricela could clean it
without the risk to us or to her of the virus.

And here I am,
with my poem about the deep brown of the acorns
that look a little like bullets
with a perfect monastic tonsure at the end
and that Andoe and John
soaked in water from the fountain
so we could peel them to get to the nut-fruit,
just to see it—pale brown-pink—
and feel it on the flesh of our hands.

Maybe someone will invent a way
to clean the air for everyone in New Delhi
and make the fortune they would deserve
for creating a city
where children wouldn’t have to go to schoolrooms
that do or do not have air cleansers,
and the teachers who teach there can think about
what teachers should think about—
justice, peace, joy; the shadowy problems of being.

If sincerity were a color
it would be white:
the white of the birches,
a sometimes inhuman whiteness—

a white like anger’s whiteness,
and if you can get to the bottom of your anger
you can parent yourself
well enough, Brian,
walking as you must amidst the citadels of indifference
of the good who believe they have done their work already.

Brian Glaser has published three books of poems and many essays on poetry and poetics. He is associate professor of English at Chapman University in Orange, California.