Conditions for Poetry

It should be dark—not absolutely, but opalescent
as dawn in the hour before sunrise
or the blue-gray of evening as twilight gathers
over the mountain. The air should be chilly
and the only sound the small, mechanical
heartbeat of a clock in another room.

If it is morning, coffee is called for, oily, aromatic;
if evening, a glass of red wine, translucent,
smelling of cherries.

Preferably it is Friday with rain pattering the window,
Bachianas Brasileiras pouring from an old radio in a mahogany cabinet—
and we are in Berkeley or Berlin.

If Berkeley, the rain smells of the sea,
or of laurel and eucalyptus.
If Berlin, the air is rank with cigarettes and traffic.
Branches of linden trees shudder in the wind.

A presence stands just beyond the closed door to your room,
attentive, listening. Or perhaps not listening, not there,
not even thinking of you, austere in her own life,
busy and elegant as tapestry,
fantastic as a fugue.