Saturday, April 04, 2009

Kenny the Cat, I Mean,
Explained Over the Cheap
Bottle of Gato Negri
As Poured for Us Repeatedly
At the Black Tulip Hour

He cries like he cried
when I was reading Henry James.
Professional weepers
by now, and the library
fears us like southerners
fear a powder-sugar-French-toast
I am not saying the librarians
buy up all the milk and eggs
and leave the grocery
looking robbed. I am saying
that they bring in sand bags
and move the rarest books
to higher ground. That first
edition Dumas signed, for example.
We’re allowed nowhere near that section,
and yet, shouldn’t the entire library
be ashrug with sobs? The tragedy,
the gorgeousness, all gathering in a folding wave
of the unbearable ache of the glorious
uses of language to bring us: flowers, countries, back
to life. A thank you for being
this species to sing this string
of words taught to us so young
we could barely guess what we meant
by promises that contained four witches upright,
or prayers that suggested death before waking
and someone told me just yesterday
that what Sylvia Plath was missing was God
and dear fellow follower of the words
I thought of us: full of Christmas cookies
and writing about a year lousy with meteors.
How we escape however we can in the black tulip
hour, his needles, her pills, our sugar highs and lows,
the dresses we put in our virtual shopping carts
only to have them pillaged in the night.
Cindy, I almost knew your father:
years-gone before I even met you,
and on his birthday, when we dined
at our favorite Chinese cafe in his honor,
I felt he saw you somehow, sees you:
wonder, toy-hearted, a mind sharp
as his warnings about a world
he could barely trust with his girl.
We had helped each other farewell
so much, by then: your father goodbye,
your love goodbye, and me, newly-wrenched
from what I thought was certain love.
The story was the same when we left
for new distant towns months ago, only the lovers
were swapped out for new ones to leave or leave us
and we wrote back and forth, to remind us
how to move, how to do anything
not to hurt him, anything not to hurt.

Incidentally, I don’t know where the rest
of my life went, but this morning,
it’s Sunday, early spring, and outside
my window, I spy a man
teaching his daughter
how to ride a sky-blue bicycle
with a basket, plastic-flowered,
with streamers, and there is only
that first bike, father’s hand: solid-lightly
on the small of the back, believing
us into feeling it there still
when, holding his breath,
and her balance with just
the muscular-wish of his gaze,
a ghost-hand lingers, steadying
and she rides away still with him
with every push on the pedal,
every sparkling-spit of silver
off the spokes, the planet,
the daylight-saved clock
everything that spins,
spin-certain, spin.

for Chicky

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