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64 Panoramic Way

by Carol Moldaw

Like easy conversation,
rambling, obliquely angled,
the winding street traverses
the steep residential hill.

Stone stairs ladder-stitch
the street’s tiers; every few
rungs open on terraces,
windows glinting through hedges,

sunlight feathering grass.
At the first switchback,
pine needles tufted with dog fur
pad up the wide cracked steps

leading to a cottage and two
ramshackle shingle houses.
From the lintel of an illegal
basement apartment, magenta

fuchsia, silent bells,
bob and sag over a pot’s rim.
Higher, up narrow steps
built over rubble, we climb

to the top deck. What was
our garden now grows wild
onions’ white flowers,
and butter-yellow weed

winter’s mohair throw
draping a bare mattress.
By late spring someone else
or no one will be bending

to pick cool herbs
like single guitar notes.
Something knots in my throat.

decibels begin jackhammering
inside #D—our old address.
Black Sabbath? Iron Maiden?
I know our own records

by the first chord. Pounding,
we try the unlocked door,
and pick our way through
a year’s domestic fall-out:

dropped clothes, album sleeves,
mattresses blocking entrances,
I trip trying not to look.

Waving on the balcony,
an old guest, now our host,
offers us the view.
At this time of year,

no yellow beach roses
tumble the latticed railing,
no draft of honeysuckle,
no bees flitting near their hive.

Cars nose around the hairpin turn.
Looking past Berkeley’s hazy
flat grids, past Oakland,
you can see, as if you’ve flicked

a painted fan open, a striped
spinnaker tacking the wide bay;
three bridges; and San Francisco
shrugging off her damp negligee.


Carol Moldaw was born in Oakland, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and settled in New Mexico in 1990.  She is the author of three books of poetry: Chalkmarks on Stone (1998), Pencereden (Through the Window), a cycle of poems translated into Turkish by Nezih Onur (1998), and Taken from the River (1993).

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