James Chapson

First Date

After agreeing on the day
there was plenty of time to rehearse
what to wear, what to say; lunch
and exploratory conversation.

But when the day came
it was blocked
by a lock of brown hair,

a lock of hair chestnut brown,
mahogany, childlike
across a smooth forehead.

A lock of hair: a desert, a mountain range.

Across that wide desert, those mountains-
a pleasant land where cattle grazed
and peasants labored in the golden light,
a country for which no visa had been issued.

If only that lock of hair
had been some other color.

Jim Chapson was born in Honolulu where his grandfather used to play poker with David Kalakaua. He now lives in Milwaukee, and has been described perceptively by Kent Johnson as "completely unknown."