poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 20, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Pleasure so often evades accurate description. Nevertheless, sometimes just by trying to describe pleasure we make ourselves happier, thereby creating another form of pleasure.”
—Lee Upton

The Best Drink

The afternotes: orange, a little frangipani,

and then something harsh and mineral:

an old jug rutted out of the ruins of a lost chapel.

But first it was like drinking spring water

lathed by rocks fatty with quartz. 

No, it’s inexplicable,

even the way that drink spared our feelings.

That drink liked loneliness and appreciation, lingering appreciation.

Just thinking about that drink creates a kind of yearning

that douses you like sea spray.

I drank that drink and was convinced my body

was flying of its own accord, and why not? 

The myth of Icarus is an ugly story

retold and retold and retold

by someone resentful who wasn’t able to drink

the best of the drinks we ever drank.

There was a clear sky in that glass and shaggy pines

and a bit of snowmelt doused in a fire,

and soon a blue shawl drew itself from the rim

and brimmed over us both, and something caught

inside our throats and was released—some old grief.

A grief that, possibly, didn’t even come from us. Or even from our ancestors. 
 

Copyright © 2016 by Lee Upton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Lee Upton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lee Upton

Lee Upton

Lee Upton is the author of Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2015).