All around the city, people
are staying up late, burning
the midnight oil, losing sleep,
trying to get things done, to find
answers, acquire knowledge about
subjects unknown to you and me;
in the stone and glass pavilion
of the orthopedic surgeons
or the porn-strewn bamboo forests
that grow beside the highway
they are consulting maps and ancient books,
reading the illuminated tablets
or examining the facets of the blue
many-faceted stone. Others
are dining long past midnight,
on smoked eel and lemongrass
on square green plates; they
are smoking hookahs, drinking brilliant
red drinks and lighting Roman candles.
And in the subterranean food court
with its huge Walpolian hand for signage
lit with burning fustian, purple bulbs,
and treacle, they are eating tentacles
in man-made noodles where motherhood
is ripening. And when dawn comes
two men lay full-length beside the river,
asleep in their pointed boots in the tall weeds
in the lee of a moss-covered boulder,
the city shining behind them.
A few instructional pamphlets
are scattered in the dirt beside the sleepers:
one on how to flavor cigars; the other
on the annealing of bronze for bells;
the last on the shining of the lapidary crystal.
Geoffrey Nutter lives in New York City and is the author of six poetry collections, including Cities at Dawn and Giant Moth Perishes. He runs Wallson Glass Poetry Seminars via Zoom every other Saturday afternoon, information which can be found at his website, Wallson Glass.
“The Lapidary Crystal” was published in TLR: Invisible Cities (Spring 2013).