an ageusic vintner’s panegyric
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wine is lifeblood
(it is what it is)
in our casks we
are made and shaped and born,
gestate, germinate, drink in the worted
amniotic fluid, skin-red or pulp-white
or some of both
so that our phenolic skins
snap dry with tannins
and wrap translucent around our insides,
which shimmer so beautifully, so lovely
in the light that cannot dry them.

at our stands we
praise with shining coin-shaped words—
scent and color, feel and finish
(you learn to love the product)
each as if prepared
to drown ourselves in vintage.
we watch them drink.
it makes them maudlin
in the macerated shade beneath
their eyes, or joyful sometimes:
joy that stains teeth
and trickles down chins.

sometimes, we drink ourselves:
an ironical drinking, in sips.
for the taste the others say
and smile wryly.

but i have a secret.
i cannot taste it.

—though while composing maculated iambic lines
and quatrains to our unrivaled taste
i will often guess at what it is.
for the pale, spindling moonbeams
that scatter as they fall. for the dark—
the eternal tides, their life and brine.
i wonder: do the meads recall
the buzzing of unnumbered bees?
or champagne, the stars?

but—nothing. i could
scourge my ageusic tongue
(and have)
or spend my days licking piquancy
from the juice of a thousand fruits—
and there would be nothing.

at night i leave my brethren
to their gustative dreams
and walk out, tilt up my face
towards the vast and empty
dark like a vatful of must,
and inhale.
and in that nothingness—
i imagine love
without the qualities of taste
or smell, as all must have to love.
i imagine that i can
love without understanding.
i imagine that i am a vintner, after all.

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