the dust is sexual, and I am not
eighteen clothed in elaborate
nonchalance. Onion's Etymologies
says memory is related to mourning.
I'm always remembering myself
out of some plain place in the middle
West, some every-small-town-I-have-ever-hated
and grieved my way out of in poetry, chipping
the distance open with a train, awling
open with the train's hooting
a silence which is stolidly American, sturdy, woodsy,
well, no, perhaps these woods are Dante's;
it's dark in here. I'm nearly fifty
rummaging through the ruined beauty
of a girl at twenty who couldn't interrogate
her heart for more than five minutes.
even in Corsica where the repeated call of the
lighthouse throbbed like a piston, and the thin whine
of an engine garroted the quiet, and I stood good
as a flower in my pastel shirtwaist, poked and
nuzzled by my date, and listened to the mixing,
like a cocktail, of the water and earth, the cool
gargle, the slushy breathing of the surf, and
wished I were somewhere else
to her describing, even then, a longing
to escape. And, like me, she only does it on the page
heaping up the elaborate scenery so
she can disappear into it. Nearly fifty.
On that flat EKG of horizon the silos are blips
repeating and repeating. There is a storm,
a thick, dark, hard knot of cloud, but it's stuck
in the chimney of my throat.
The fire is out, the cabin's dark
and beyond, the woods are a platoon
of black trees. It's so quiet
I can hear my heart like the blows
of an ax, each blow blurred by an echo,
I can hear my heart inside my chest
trudging onward across the bleak tundra.
What was I thinking?
I look again at her poems flowing with
images, a restlessness, a terrible sense of
what's coming: She's writing me,
the woman she becomes, who could not
or would not save her.