Sonnet with Zinc and Rhododendrons
Robert Thomas

Sonnet with Zinc and Rhododendrons

It could be anything: the fender scratch
from when we parked by the ocean and scraped
the stone wall, the fragrance of onions
at rest in a glazed clay bowl for a still life,
or rhododendrons—they’ve more an aura
than a scent. A whole white forest of them
outside our window at Sea Ranch that May
and we barely noticed. They live more now
in memory, as sometimes experience
is the shadow of its memory, and death
the acid bath the silver-coated film
endures till the image is born dripping
from its zinc sink. The one we saw in life—
wry smile, gray cocked cap—was always the ghost.

Robert Thomas

is the author of Bridge (BOA Editions), winner of the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, and of two poetry collections: Dragging the Lake (Carnegie Mellon) and Door to Door (Fordham), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the Poets Out Loud Prize. He has received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pushcart Prize, and his poems have appeared in Field, The Iowa Review, New England Review, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, and many other journals.