I remember mostly her blue eye shadow with the gold
flecks in it, her eyelashes catching bits of light like
remnants of tears, her face
turning on too-quickly with a shining laugh;
the way her hands gripped his arm when he signed
his autograph; the way he all but ignored her;
the way she still seemed young through her makeup,
dressed almost in costume for the gala affair
as he positioned through the crowd
and she moved at his side, flashing her bright eyes
at all the faces smiling past her. I remember the blur
of conversation—words lost
in the din—everyone holding a paper cup
of wine, the way we talked through each other
and smiled and smiled to replace the scattered words;
how we kept drifting away
toward the others who were made of the same façade;
how we finally all went in to applaud the speaker
and hear the poems and commemorate the affair
with our signed editions. Oh, what an anthology we were.
The room bristled with our attendance.
The room lights quivered with animation.
The room warmed us as we huddled in mutual admiration,
briefly famous to each other.
You all have foreign names, dear ghosts and never-met
friends of my imagined other lives, laden with mysterious
and curious endings, remembered later in full and partial
detail. The dark moviedom. Names significant with
foreignness—like the names I gave to paper dolls:
glamour names, movie after movie of my own pretending—
believable to the unrealities I live with now that I am old
and out of plots with nothing that can measure up.
After "Composition VI" by Kandinsky
Music of life, always unfinished,
always newly written, resounding
through instruments and notations,
through musician and listener,
blending and played once or always,
leaving its patterns in humming voices,
refining itself for recognition.
Banjo, Harp, Moods, and Tones.
Wrung Colors that move like water
on a wet palette, stirred by
a blur of brush strokes,
creating surreal likeness of
whatever—mind closed—mind open,
swirling canvas of creation,
black borders—gold centers.
A last we name this:
structure of, structure of . . .
what shall we name it . . . ?
I WOULD HAVE PICASSO PAINT ME
angled and bent
in the most outrageous of
colors—made of garish light
I would be a poppy here
and a thistle there
I would not be invisible.
My eyes would have to be
found in one of my
distortions; my heart
would be hidden in one of my
into an old cup of beauty.
My twisted hands would
affirm their affection
for the poetry of
his deepest rage and holy feeling.
I would understand
our mutual interpretation.
I would suffer
He would forget to sign his name.
It was a creature made of light, tame and beautiful.
It came to her hand but backed away when she
tried to touch it. She could almost name it, though
it made no sound and had no definite shape. Still
she recognized it as something that she loved and
used to own, though only in a book that she cherished
and had to return. It appeared to her now on the edge
of its existence. She wanted to save it as she always
had. It followed her for this.
THIS PARTICULAR WINTER
How the winds speak when it is winter;
how they say my name through the walls,
carrying all their news in deep gray vowels.
How they do carry on through the long
loud hours, begging at the windows, saying
wild things with their hollow mouthings.
“t h e y c o m e f r o m s o f a r” …
they tell me….and “l e t u s i n” …
and they promise and promise not to harm me,
And I grip through the fringe of my shawl
and make tea, and form no answers.
I cannot go with them again. I have outgrown
the clothing and the games.
The thin far animals from then
howl from the dangers and dare me to find them
But my great orange cat is asleep on my chair
and I must remain to stroke her
and hear her purr. The old house shudders
and complains about this particular winter.
I lay soft pillows against the doors
and tell the hours not to answer.
I took Reality into my arms and said I loved
him, said, Dance with me. I held him for a long
moment and let him go. He was babbling and
weeping my name. I said I was sorry, though
I had done nothing but hold him. He said, Dance
with me. He said he loved me, but his lips were
not moving. His eyes were closed. I was holding
his shadow, which was inconsolable. I was
telling him lie after lie to make him love me. He
was holding me close enough not to break. I
could see the music through the glass. It was
sad and perfect. He warned the glass not to
take his reflection, that he was a blur, that I
should not watch him through wet eyes. The
glass shuddered with distortion. I was there
alone. He was the lie of my love, I wanted
THOSE NAMELESS LOVES
All those I have falsely loved
recede now with no guilt or contrition,
none falsely blamed—
only this moment of them,
Not one of them
has a name
that belongs to this reunion.
Why do I mention this, is it only memory
or something not yet known—
reluctant to lose?
I took the ranting sorrow that you offered
and named it love. You wept.
You turned toward yourself with misery—
still mortal—still bereft.
My arms were not enough to hold such pain.
I offered you my own.
This, you accepted; something you could name.
We stood there, each alone.