by Richie Hofmann

—from the leafy, walled-in courtyard beside the house,
where fountain-water trickled

from a river-god's mouth
into the unseasonable heat of that afternoon, we watched

the heavy bees, clumsy in their flight, humming
against the bricks and orange tree blossoms.

Everywhere we walked, you would point out how the Japanese honeysuckle clings
to the walls and fences like mayflies.

Each star-shaped flower scattered its breath into fragrant burrs,
which the heavy, humid air held around us,

until, as if no longer able to hold,
a downpour,
all the aroma flushed away in the sky's own sighing—



Richie Hofmann’s debut collection of poems is Second Empire (Alice James, 2015). He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and his poems appear in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and Poetry. Beginning in the fall, he will be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. This poem originally appeared in the Summer/Autumn 2012 issue of the Bulletin.


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