Home > Poetry > 64 Panoramic Way
Published: Fri Apr 15 1988
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
64 Panoramic Way

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.

See what's inside AGNI 26

Carol Moldaw is the author of five books of poetry, including most recently So Late, So Soon: New and Selected Poems (Etruscan Press, 2010) and The Lightning Field, winner of the 2002 FIELD Prize (Oberlin Press, 2003). Her first novel, The Widening, was published in 2008. Most recently her poetry has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, AGNI, Harvard Review, Poet Lore, and The New Yorker. A recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize, Moldaw lives outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In spring 2011, she was the Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University. (updated 4/2013)

Moldaw’s first book Taken From the River was reviewed in AGNI 39 by Christopher Davis.


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