Enid Shomer


Cue ball, egg, the handles of tools:
everything wants to be smooth,
then smoother: the newel post worn to satin

by generations rushing up
and down stairs scooped out, thinned
like the bowls of spoons. Even languages

slicken. Without the Barbarian hordes,
and given another millennium,
Latin, with its prickly cases

and moods, would have simplified,
Like Chinese, till every word
was good for any part of speech:

I own a dog, I dog the dog,
I have dog breath,
I walk dogly…

O the beauties of use—the slow-cooked
patina on ivory pistol grips,
the rounded corners of leather books.

And splendor of splendors,
evolution, that plucked the vulture’s
head for dipping in guts unhindered

by plumes. I think of my own lost
hair like that—not as the cost
of killing deadly cells, but a sleek

mutation. Bald beneath my Yankee
blue, I tip my cap to nature’s
thrift, to cure.

Enid Shomer is the author of seven books, most recently The Twelve Rooms of the Nile (Simon & Schuster), which NPR named one of the six best historical novels of 2012.