Lost Love Song of
The Ice Cream Truck

The words take us on a whirlwind vacation but do not let us leave the mountaintop, where autumn hangs its lantern from a tree, and red leaves fall, like tears, into a jar left out on the porch for just that purpose. The rest of the scenery has been hauled to a different sector.

In the mirror, a young woman with tight curls stands behind you with a name sewn into the air. A pink or orange banner made of paint. This is the wall behind the both of you, that place that cannot be reached by foot.

She wants to get your attention without waving or reaching out. Your shadow has left you and it is I. (Is it necessary to have a native speaker enter through the front door?) I (or the one standing in front of me) am here to tell you a story: a mechanical whale lives alone in a nearby lake and his name is Boris or Blue Sob, depending what town is sponsoring the event. The children are waiting for the congenial machine to open its jaws, so they can sit at round tables and sip liquids the color of the stars inside their heads.

The person in the mirror is looking past you at the person standing here–reader, dear reader, head full of poisonous thoughts. Why do you say “reader” when you know it is a lovesick reindeer and her name is Esmerelda? In the evening, when the ice cream truck is making its rounds, she comes down to the shore and stamps the ground, waiting for Boris to bow his wide forehead and swoon.

She (this is now a different story) looks like someone you once were, someone who wants to replace you, someone whose name was removed from the tree into which it was carved.



John Yau’s most recent books are Paradiso Diaspora (Penguin, 2006) and The Passionate Spectator: Essays on Art and Poetry (University of Michigan, 2006). He is currently a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry (2006-2007). He teaches at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University) and lives in Manhattan.