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Yellow Gotham

Matthew Hittinger

Yes          you said, but what would you select? Name one.

Not          the Narbonne Arch of fantastical mystical beasts

Not          that manticore's scorpion tail, nor the pelican's beak

Not          the basilisk's glowing eyes, nor the harpy's talon

Not          the griffin's wings, nor the amphisbaena's fangs

Not          the centaur's blond mane, nor the lion's gilt crown

Yes          you said, but they are all of stone, and you imagine.

Not          the former Carmelite church's stained glass saints

Not          Catherine's wheel and sword, nor Dorothea's roses

Not          Barbara's tower, Servatius' key, nor Mary's corn robe

Yes          you said, but they are in someone else's heaven.

Not          in quatrefoil roundels with their four leafed scenes

Not          the knave stealing food, nor the baker and his loaves

Not          the knight in tournament, nor the masquerade garb

Yes          you said, but those are people, that is satire.

Not          in nimbus, not in halo, nor the almond mandorla

Not          in heraldic motifs, not garter, thistle, or fleur-de-lis

Yes          you said, but you cannot name a symbol a design.

Not          in plate or ewer, cruet or chalice, paten, beaker, straw

Not          in brooch, not in clasp, not in cross or crosier shaft

Not          the aquamanile in the form of a dragon or a cock

Yes          you said, but those are things made of or gilt in gold.

Not          the Paschal candlestick, not the altar or credenza

Not          the ivory reliquary carvings, nor the narwal tusk

Not          the playing card suits: collar, horn, tether and noose

Yes          yes, you said, I want those playing cards too.

Not          the unicorn tapestries' millefleurs backgrounds

Not          the dogs, not the finches, not the fountain or horn

Not          the lance, brocade, not the velvet, leather or fur

Not          the fence or collar, nor the initials A and E

Yes          yes, you said, which is to say, not the thread.

Not          even the sun square in the arid Saint Guilhem court

Yes          you said, then where? Then what? You must choose.

Not          Wordsworth's daffodil, not St. John's Wort where light

               seeps through windowed leaves, but there in the Bonnefont

               herb garden, the single corona of the Narcissis poeticus.

Yes          you said, and this is what, how you choose?

               Though my namesake's white petals would put

               the lily to shame, and its corona's red bled edge

               pricks far worse than any thorny rose, no other

               color comes closest to the Cloisters in my head.

Matthew Hittinger

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