Letter to Brooks: Spring Garden

When you have forgotten (to bring into
         Play that fragrant morsel of rhetoric,
Crisp as autumnal air), when you
         Have forgotten, say, sunlit corners, brick
         Full of skyline, rowhomes, smokestacks,
Billboards, littered rooftops & wondered
What bread wrappers reflect of our hunger,

When you have forgotten wide-brimmed hats,
         Sunday back-seat leather rides & church,
The doorlock like a silver cane, the broad backs
         Swaying or the great moan deep churning,
         & the shimmer flick of flat sticks, the lurch
Forward, skip, hands up Aileyesque drop,
When you have forgotten the meaningful bop,

Hustlers and their care-what-may, blasé
         Ballet and flight, when you have forgotten
Scruffy yards, miniature escapes, the way
         Laundry lines strung up sag like shortened
         Smiles, when you have forgotten the Fish Man
Barking his catch in inches up the street
ďIíve got porgies. Iíve got trout. Feeesh

Man,Ē or his scoop and chain scale,
         His belief in shad and amberjack; when
You have forgotten Ajax and tin pails,
         Blue crystals frothing on marble front
         Steps Saturday mornings, or the garden
Of old men playing checkers, the curbs
White-washed like two lines out to the burbs,

Or the hopscotch squares painted new
         In the street, the pitter-patter of feet
Landing on rhymes. ďHow do you
         Like the weather, girls? All in together, girls,
         January, February, March, April... Ē
The jump ropesí portentous looming,
Their great, aching love blooming.

When you have forgotten packs of grape-
         Flavored Now & Laters, the squares
Of sugar flattening on the tongue, the elation
         You felt reaching into the corner-store jar,
         Grasping a handful of Blow Pops, candy bars
With names you didnít recognize but came
To learn. All the turf battles. All the war games.

When you have forgotten popsicle stick
         Races along the curb and hydrant fights,
Then, retrieve this letter from your stack
         Iíve sent by clairvoyant post & read by light,
         For it brought me as much longing and delight.
This weekís Fatherís Day; Iíve a long ride to Philly.
Iíll give this to Gramps, then head to Black Lily.

Major Jackson