Thursday, June 30, 2011


In Ithaca

Before arriving in Ithaca, pass
the whatever river, whatevering
around the dusty credit spring
loans summer, where men off
ante meridian to relieve water
of any but the wiliest trout.
Sweat drips as simple syrup down
gawky morning chins of lost tourist,
invited visitor alike as they amble
past the poetic Wendy’s, sing
of how five gorges cater breeze
over hot May noons. 1942’s
Comprehensive Pictorial Encyclopedia
in the public bathroom on Seneca
says scenic beauty expands
out of nightingales and bees
and a picture of John Wayne.
Lunch is orange and sweet. Porches
restrain sheep, become kernels
of early Iranian cinema dialogues
for the burled tri-state area.
In Ithaca, no one calls Ithaca
the Switzerland of America.
Deer multiply into stars, stars
replace deer, but evening light,
nostalgically golden brown, is hard
for me to remember, once borders
are crossed. The Cayuga dreams
of Tioga, from a distance, and, 
as an heiress to an empty estate,
State Street woos New Jersey state
while iced Italian Soda served
under fans at Home Dairy want savoring,
if the flavor is Kiwi, the tropical
component of 4:30, here, in Ithaca,
where astronomical observations
reveal to even jaded passers-by
a street, a city, a moon, an ocean
papier-mached with glacial confetti
from a million legendary parades.

-A.J. Rathbun

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