The Böll Haus Welcome
I was expected. The philharmonic
orchestra struck up as the arched gate
wrapped in summer’s mesh of green, loosed its ribbons,
dropped four leaves, one for each month of my stay,
to mark the first footprint. I stamped my foot
to churn the black soil of my sole into
the German sand on the cobbled frontyard.
I was expected – a tenor crescendo
drowned out the birds’ animated giggles
as they flew from stem to stem, tree to tree,
stretching passion to the season’s last spark
before the freeze of winter’s creeping hand.
Oh such tenors! The sound of music came
from a corner of the lawn. I drew close
to the pit, the number at counterpoint,
to see the Soprano too shy to sing:
Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen? to salute
Sarastro and Papagena, surely
piping through flutes of floating lily, the
anxieties of love approaching blindfold.
I drew closer. And the African sun
I carry with me warmed them, drove away
what bit of cold lurked still as they clambered
up the hidden baton, rumbling roofs and sky
to make this reception fit tribute
to the land of eternal summer –
for I was expected – before the bullfrogs
bowed and ducked behind the curtain of lilies.