Seeing a Face in a Shopping Center
This is the day every fowl comes out to choose its mate,
Neon signs flicker green and red,
And muzak systematically amplifies vociferous flows of quiet whispers.
Every preadolescent is titillated on the earlobe,
Chrisom faces in cradles are creamed with syntholube,
Along the shelves and over the counters eyeballs roll and pause.
Promoters panhandle the passers-by with professional passion,
Half-mature roses will be iced to last for another night.
"Roses are red, violets are blue,
If you don’t pay for love, what will you do?"
What will I do, what will I do to go through this modern purgatory?
Will they turn to one stone if they hold hands when crossing the bridge?
They are all the same, no matter in what attire,
From one shopping center to another, from display arcade to boutiques.
I am just another in the crowd, featureless, and no human voice can awake,
But suddenly from behind an array of mannequins a phantom blooms...
My eyes release their automatic shutters and take in a flower,
Oh, even at the gate of hell there grows a forget-me-not.
Feb. 14, 2003
The first line of the poem derives from Chaucer. The first recorded association of Valentine's Day (the day when Saint Valentine was honored) with romantic love comes from British poet Geoffrey Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls (1382): For this was on Saint Valentine's day/ When every bird comes there to choose its mate. However, it is obvious that Feburary is much too early for birds to mate in England.