Rita Dove


The man inside the mandolin
plays a new tune
every night, sailing
past the bedroom window:

Take a gourd and string it
Take a banana and peel it
Buy a baby blue Nash
And wheel and deal it.

Now he’s raised a mast
and tied himself to it
with rags, drunker
than a robin on the wing:

Count your kisses
Sweet as honey
Count your boss’
Dirty money.

The bed’s oak
and clumsy, pitching
with its crew,
a man and a wife —

Now he’s dancing, moving
only his feet. No way
to shut him up but
roll over, scattering

ruffles and silk,
stiff with a dog’s breath
among lilies
and ripening skin:

Love on a raft
By the light o’ the moon
And the bandit gaze
of the old raccoon.