Abstractions in White

I. Ecstasy

Arms cast wide, head thrown back,
The young man stands atop the blank-white summit,
Makes a snow angel against the sky.
Turning in slow ecstasy
He spins out the thread of his celebration
Like a Dervish as his sherpa films him.

II. Angel

The young Latino man in the white paper hat
Stands behind the counter at the diner.
He flips an egg, stirs hash browns, fills my order.
Tattooed and smiling, eyes daring me.
The nametag on his strappy t-shirt says Angel.
I’m alone with him; he talks softly to me about movies,
And at the end of the meal hands me a slice of cake
Frosted white and peaky as the clouds
That baseball players call by his name.

III. Order

The woman spreads a green-and-blue striped towel on the sand,
Ordering the ecstatic and unruly sea with its terry edges, squared and true.
Behind her a man in a booth sells a child a soda in a white waxed-paper drive-in cup.


Another exercise poem. This one presented a list of abstract words to choose from, then freewrite concretes in association with. The three I chose head the sections of the poem, each of which plays with the different meanings of the word. I noticed during a later draft that whiteness ran as a thread through all the sections; that provided the title. The final section is a nod to my favorite poem, “The Idea of Order at Key West.”


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