Sunday, November 23, 2008

Napa is all around you

On the first day, we never know the way anywhere –
surprised when the road doglegs left
and takes us over a white stone bridge,
letting the car idle at the crossroads to unfold our map,
vineyards all around, those twisted black stumps
spread over the far fields, like an army
of the halt and lame marching back home
in defeat after a winter's campaign.

At dinner we'll brag about the town
we discovered, made entirely of white houses and places to sit
with a newspaper and coffee, the stores so full
of things to buy that the shelves creak with the weight,
just like that village in Maine, ten years ago,
whose name we always argue about.

Here, in the shadow of mountains so rich
it seems you can smell them like warm coffee beans
in a bag; here, where every car brings another blonde wife
to her dinner date, where dark men stand in the fields
burning things in barrels for reasons
we'll never ask or understand; here
we finally arrive at the secret
at the heart of all travel,
that everyone needs to believe they've ducked
beneath the sword forever turning outside Eden,
found El Dorado, here in their own private Napa,
where no one is poor, or limps, or drives
a dirty car, and nothing dies
without us willing it to be brought to us
garnished and served on a warm plate.

Mark Aiello