And when the time came to leave, we did so,
“we” being myself
and the air of agreement in the enclosing space.
People may call me a solipsist.
“I don’t think that’s true,” I say,
and have a brilliant new girdle.
We become wreathed with the making
of our products,
which may not be sandals,
white papers, or large structures,
but one can wear
or walk through them.
And whether of smoke, daisies,
or a shining particulate only visible at a tilt,
the proper crown can sit
like a swallow on your head, or buckle
until it’s a frame you step from, in ivory pumps
and a tightly quilted suit.
We all go outside to shed
buildings, the swaddling of company,
dispose of minutes
or enter the storm.
I’ve always believed
the dark breath of the smokers
sends out their dead, their wishes,
and wincingly I’ve watched smoke rise
from chimneys and stacks
and exhaust pipes in their ubiquity
Many windows, for safety, do not open.
I miss the reindeer
in the town I left years ago.
The kitchen table,
the butter in the morning
in the purple clay dish.
But that from which we retire,
we retain, especially in our waiting room hours,
in trains’ stared-at windows,
in the cycling of dreams and hours of driving.
It’s a rust-proof retirement
of a certain kind of love.
It’s got all the people
who shouted and fought on the street
in my other old neighborhood
engulfed; they are quieted
while I recall that street’s name.
If not too near in time,
up to the instant the memory
blows into fullness,
they are just open mouths
I’d feed a good bread.
Sometimes we stay on,
as if we could live entirely inside restaurants
or outside movie theaters,
never forced to eat someone’s last animal,
or bend and yield to a low, muscular power,
and we keep things small,
make small things
our continual subject.
Flowers in their familiarity
go mostly unnoticed, the weather is diminished
so it equals our moods. To stay
can be sorry keeping,
tiredness, a failure
to know even the little a tourist would,
and we put ourselves on loan
to dull acquiescence,
to the too-oft-visited few,
and come cap in hand to their tables
that always depend on a sugar packet for stability.
Other times we stand before a boulevard
with our outermost tendrils refusing to sink,
trailing over the surfaces of passing things,
trying to know them
like the blind know your look
from the sound of your hair
brushing the subway window.
To go after that, singed, trifling
from the poorly adopted idea
of a dwelling place,
is to walk as far as possible
from the creeping discomfort of sitting,
in the company of too many blondes.
First posted on June 1, 2006 6:04 AM