Robbi Nester has been writing frantically during the pandemic, and intends to keep it up into the new post-pandemic world. She is the author of 4 books of poetry, the most recent being Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019) and has also edited three anthologies. The most recent, The Plague Papers, is available for free at https://poemeleon.me/the-plague-papers-introduction. Her poetry and reviews have appeared most recently at Tiferet, North of Oxford, Verse-Virtual, Inflectionist Review, Rhino, and Cultural Weekly.
Once I dreamed of wandering through the world’s great galleries: the Hermitage,
the Louvre, of visiting Monet’s garden, walking till I fainted with fatigue,
suffered from a surfeit of seeing. What a pleasure it would be to go to a dark
café after all that, where a platter of pelmeni glistened and strong tea steeped
in the samovar till it tinted my teeth with tannin, and just taste for a while,
or to wake in a room in Giverny, white as a cloud, to walk the streets of Paris,
feeling cobblestones under the thin soles of my shoes. At this moment,
it seems almost enough to imagine, while I sit here on my small patio,
where the light still finds me, and a hummingbird visits the orchids,
just now coming into bloom, the scent of jasmine right outside my door.
I don’t know how old I was when I first noticed
that watermelons smell like new-mown grass,
the smell of summer evenings after dinner,
when there’s still plenty of light to play by,
and you can’t wait to run outside before
the lightning bugs arrive, the fleet of
ice cream trucks begin to drive slow circles
round the block. There’s still a wedge
of melon smiling at you on the Pyrex
platter. Black shiny seeds and ghostly
white ones form a face you want to bite,
feel the sticky juice run down your chin.
Maybe it’s the rind that has that faintly
sour tang of grass. The flesh, heavy
with liquid, red and sweet, has another
sort of scent, like cold water when you’ve
been running, and all you want to do
is put your head under the flowing hose
and drink until the water pours down
your neck and shirt and you finally feel cool.