Almond Tea

            A kasen renku by Alexis Rotella, Michael Dylan Welch, Pat Shelley, and Florence Miller


Written 24 January 1994 at the home of Alexis Rotella in Saratoga, California. First published in Lynx XIII:2, June 1998, pages 34–35. Alexis wrote the first verse about me, starting us off very much in the moment on that crisp winter day on her deck and in her kitchen and dining room. The renku would have gone in an entirely different direction if I’d happened to have taken that almond tea.



Almond tea—

he’s happy just

inhaling it.                                                                                           Alexis


            sky in the spoon

            bubbles rise in the wine glass                                         Michael


sequoia seeds

so light

in her hair                                                                                            Michael


            feet cold

            the poems don’t come                                                      Pat


Hoot owl—

too early

for the moon.                                                                                    Florence


            shifting light

            we move inside                                                                    Michael


in the comfort

of her kitchen

seedless grapes                                                                                Pat/Alexis


            click of the furnace

            our rhythmic breathing                                                     Michael


the Mondrian

I leave it

tilted                                                                                                     Michael



            the stars shake.                                                                    Alexis


pink ballet slippers


the same way                                                                                    Pat


            Under the dust ruffle

            a condom.                                                                               Florence


Jewish girl

she asks for

a communion dress.                                                                       Florence


            hanging over the freeway

            Cheshire cat moon                                                              Michael


placing logs

in the fireplace—

doorbell                                                                                               Michael



            its moldy smell.                                                                     Alexis/Florence


shorn rose—

silver tracings

of the snail                                                                                          Pat



            gone fishing                                                                           Michael


wet socks

on the closet floor

grandson’s visit                                                                                 Pat


            Root cellar

            white potato eyes.                                                              Alexis/Florence/Michael


snow on the sill . . .

cat turned

to the window                                                                                  Michael



            still the chimes                                                                      Michael


Et cetera

my doctor uses it

again.                                                                                                     Alexis


            all through my dream

            the chattering squirrel                                                       Michael


Morning fog

the smell

of eucalyptus.                                                                                   Florence


            a gull’s cry

            over Alcatrazz                                                                        Michael


So long

the veil

of his ashes.                                                                                       Florence


            Two contrails

            become one.                                                                         Alexis


The moonstone

in my navel

surprises him.                                                                                    Alexis


            our empty teacups

            by the bed, rattling                                                             Michael


she leaves

her robe—

birdsong                                                                                              Pat/Alexis


            a crack in the pavement

            lesser bindweed                                                                  Pat


inside the gazebo

a bank

of dry leaves                                                                                      Michael



            half the horses gone                                                          Michael


chalk outline

of the body

tiny                                                                                                        Michael


            A gray pigeon

            pecking Wonder bread.                                                    Alexis