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December 2020

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Alyza Lee Salomon is a poet, dancer, tutor, and editor. She ascribes her love of words and languages to a trilingual childhood with a European heritage, as filtered through the experience of growing up as a first-generation American. Her poems have appeared in local anthologies, and her essays on Virginia Woolf have appeared in scholarly journals. She is a member of Natica Angilly’s Poetic Dance Theater Company and has performed with the company since 2003. Alyza did undergraduate work at SUNY Binghamton and earned her master’s degree in English Literature at Sonoma State University. She grew up in Maryland, has lived in Israel, and now for many years enjoys the cultural diversity and natural wonders of living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Floating out of the Bookshop
on a euphoric cloud of poetry, I decide
to ride the sidewalk’s magic carpet
down to the seductive waterfront

where Mount Diablo’s grey shoulders
preside over the brown dog hills
frilled with darkening green trees
across the dramatic blue waterway.

See the cluster of dancing palmtrees
waving to the elegant sailboat
gliding across the straight to where
the setting sun serenely smiles.

While the weekend strollers
are taking it all in, a silver train
heading west on the opposite shore
centipedes along an unseen track

as its whistle stirs the iridescent air,
enabling a homeward-bound tug
boldly chugging east upstream
as if headed to bed and story-time.

The waterfowl sweetly nesting
on murky mini-islets and those
bobbing on the wavelets
are matched by the three or four

ducks circling their chunk
of the enchanted panorama
and stirring the view above
the double-sloped roof

of the historic railroad station
now commercially repurposed
to entice locals and tourists alike
with bedazzling trinkets and charms.

Imagistic miracles multiply as First Street’s
deco-lights twinkle on to enliven
casual laughter and glasses clinking
amidst shadows of dogs and walkers.

A mom and grandma and two little boys
with sorcerer’s sticks cheerfully complete
their shoreline adventure in time
to go home to baths and dinner.

Even the trawler dragging
a non-working tugboat
towards the bridge
and open-sea view of the Bay

pretends to carry some magical
mystery in its tour, as matched
to the moment as ever
a classic Beatles song could be,

while the sudden pinkness
of the Diablo horizon
begins singing its own secret song
that says, “Why marvel?

Mauve is the color of my evening attire,
so let me bloom with the dusky
hour of transformation looming!”
At this very moment ten flying geese

pass overhead, as they regroup
into fresh configurations
of V-formation, chromatically honking
mellifluous echoes of mystic magic!

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butterfly, paruparo
borboleta, mariposa
bulubulu, farfalle
parpar, papillon,
vlinder, psyche
labalaba, shavishavi
schmetterling, chocho
kupukupu, sommerfugl
samanalaya, serurubele . . .

All these words for butterfly
in various languages
are multisyllabic.
One note will not suffice.
At least two beats are required
to render the perfect doubleness

of two forewings and two hindwings,
and the spring-like pulsing activity
of miniscule palpitation
delicately flitting in and out
from flower to flower,
from that stamen to this.

labalaba, shavishavi
borboleta, mariposa
samanalaya, serurubele
bulubulu, farfalle
butterfly, paruparo
parpar, papillon
vlinder, psyche
schmetterling, chocho
kupukupu, sommerfugl . . .

Even most species names have two,
three, four syllabic segments:
tortoise shell, painted lady,
monarch, blue morpho,
swallowtail, emperor,
admiral, fritillary . . .

Oh, look!—we say, catching
our breath—now it appears
and now it’s gone from sight.
Remembering to breathe,
we try to hold fast the scene
of that precious flickering

whose real work is nothing more
than the simple task of stitching
sunlight’s perfumed petals
to the present moment with invisible
threads that attach what is lost
and gone to what lasts forever.

samanalaya, serurubele
sommerfugl, kupukupu
chocho, schmetterling
shavishavi, labalaba
psyche, parpar
papillon, bulubulu
farfalle, paruparo
mariposa, borboleta
vlinder, butterfly!

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Luscious as Red Delicious Apples
strewn across the slick linoleum
beside the double-door entrance
to the Maryland Park Junior High gym,

the gaggle of wear-worn ruby leather
track shoes was enmeshed
in the slanted gaze
of afternoon sunshine

stealing through a second-story window.
Did I blink as the hallway corner
turned my steps
and this view snagged

my almost thirteen-year-old
full-of-surprises body
shouldering books and binders
in an oversized black pocketbook

as I marched with my burdens
to my next seventh-grade class?
They were calling me
like only red things can do:

Touch me. Wear me.
Tie the maroon laces.
Run with me
to the sky-blue pink clouds . . . .

My navy knee-socked legs could feel
the clouds lifting my stride,
my lungs could sense
the crazy pull of all-out sprinting:

this was flying—this was
me in the heart of my untethered joy
scaling the unlimited expanse
of my green New Frontier dreamscape

—far better than kissing a boy
in the locker area or getting an A
in Phys. Ed. and landing
straight A’s for the very first time.

But no. I nearly tripped
over my stiff new penny loafers
as the cruel realization took hold:
this sacred magic, formally known

as the School Track Team
was reserved for boys
and I—no matter how light and swift
and gifted, did not qualify.

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