if * 4 'I
I felt his hand grip my shoulder, I felt,
Him next to me as close and real as you,
And I undid my promise like a belt.
I began talking as we used to do,
Put out an arm to rap his back, and tried
(As always) to remember we were two.
Henry David Th
I burn in you now, Martha, and I've cried
Some nights I've had to sleep without your breast
Pushing gently against my naked side;
But I still love him, Martha, love him best
Though it's your love that sooths me like warm milk
And his that puts a gravestone in my chest.
My father grows old and walks slowly now,
and so I let him set the pace. He says,
"Soon you'll be beating me at chess."
But the night is cold, and I am thinking how
the force of combinations still drives his steps,
as his left foot strikes the pavement
in the city park, where as a child
I watched him and the old men play.
But now he drags his right foot up to it
as though reminding me that it's my move.
"My endgame isn't good enough," I say.
"It takes time, which you've got plenty of."
The winter stars are brilliant in the brilliant air,
and through dark branches years are blowing.
Someday they will rise and sweep the stars like chessmen
from the edge of the dim sky. But still my father
walks one step ahead, and I keep time,
so that even should I fail at answering,
his gambit will not have gone as just a game.
I discovered today
my guitar was made
Like a silver dollar,
it changes hands,
on the strings.
The wood settles in
like a long train ride,
a richer sound
and miles clicking,
changing fingers picking
a tune on the fretted years.
A drifting melody east from Denver,
a silver dollar toned and smoother,
the countless fingers
in yesterday 's depots.
HOMAGE TO ROSE SELAVY
Towards you like amphibious airplanes
peacocks and pigeons seem to scoot!
First thing in th mornin yVur11 two CyCs
are shining with all night's funny stories
That truck in the desert distance burrows
Like a celestial mole through emptiness.
Monstrous emptiness closes
Behind it. Burnished minus multiplies
Itself. I break a flower from the stone.
Where it grows without soil. The gray stem
Gives no sap, the small pink flower no perfume.
I think it cannot fade. I think it could crumble some
To dust, but the dust would be atoms: atoms of pink,
atoms of gray,
and every time you sit down during the day
someone drops a bunch of rubies in your lap.
When I see you in a drugstore or bar I
gape as if you were a champagne fountain
and when you tell me how your days and nights
seem to you you are my own stupid Semiramis.
Listen, you are really too beautiful to be true
you egg-beater and the next time I see you
clattering down a flight of stairs like a
Ferris wheel jingling your earrings and feathersr
a subway of smiling girls! a regular fireworks
display! I'll beat you and carry you to Venice!
Sometimes the chalk grates on the blackboard:
You are left of the arc
And carry a wounded friend
Gut shot by someone in a grave
Or a clerical position.
It is winter, and the house is strange
This early. You cannot sleep for noises
Or no noises. It is the same.
Sometimes you stoop, pick up a fumbled ball
Your son has thrown, and straighten to another time:
A war passed, a son dead, and weeds almost as high
As the house is small and wizened.
The old woman boiling eggs
Is older than your mother ever was
And claims to be your wife.
Life is like plane time:
Morning is lifting off New York,
Noon is Granada under you,
And night is the hotel where you unfold
Brochures you were given in Ohio.
Now, when you lift a smile from a menu
A ledger or a rented bed, you are
A stick figure at both ends of the arc
A teacher once chalked on a blackboard,
To explain how a time dilation might
Permit a fast-moving man to push through
A thousand doors opened away from home,
And still come back as young
Or younger than when he set out.
This window frame defines
That little piece of space and time,
That last embrace -
It seems compressed into the casement:
Like the autumn maple leaves
I pressed within the pages of a book, between
Letters of Napoleon and Josephine:
Leaves in leaves,
Such bloodless veins;
I loved leaves, and hid them from the rain-
You left love, and stood outside the pane.