I met you as hours driving forward permitted.
The universe announcing progress in the morning paper
Made against its black and white your color apt.
You were an old royal star, a Rigel, a warm
Mars. There was that self-announcing traffic
Yelling the bellicose morning of business days,
Your face against it, pointed, still, aware, under
A small hat, making the perfect marker for
The corner to meet at. Always coffee, always
A search for sugar in lumps no longer cubed
That way, little bags instead, your crinkled
Filed fingers tearing them in anyway impatience.
Then fifteen minutes, twenty sometimes, to find
The calm bottom of exchange from which to proceed.
My office waited. The hurried lines for bran
Muffins, styrofoam occasionally opened for your look to note
An order for doughnuts as they were your past.
I wondered at the coral wipe you left on Kleenex
By the saucer, what cosmetic vintage it belied
From purses, wallets, whatever you retained to
Speak fashions that were left to you alone.
Your bedroom I once thought I saw in Vogue
In the library someone left on the wide oak
Table - yellow, with gold inlay wallpaper. No
Wainscoting (I regretted) but baseboards in
Severe walnut, fresh white summery bureau
On which a rich match of bottles stood arrayed.
Cologne from where? How long? From what wartime
Flowerfields drawn off? And then the stir of
Conversation noting noon approached. The lunch for crowds
Drawn ready—that was time, impolitic with new requests.
The Greece of Quiet
We must always remember that the great things
Were material, were borrowed from earth and made
Into the hope that, without matter, would have failed.
No one can say how right this transformation was –
The temple took its turn through stone, is all one says.
As we, vibrant, move air out of our way,
The temple made its way through stone
Before taking on sleep. Before changing the slate sky.
We who put small range to our pleasures – our garden
Where we once decided daphnes or irises would
Flair in the pleated soil - gives us
Something like that quiet. But we
Know we also are propelled to churn
In our own bronze body, as we remember well when, in
The city of that kind turn of time called youth,
Playing and talking under stone or woven canopies,
The brushed air pleading to have heaven find us
Always upright, singing, clasping another’s hand
To our breast, our brown arms in quiet sun, we turned
In the eyes of all those looking, looking for happy repose.
We have a love for you, but it is a
Brief love. A night in blankets, a
Poem on the radio, in the vast land
Of the street a careful, well-meaning nod.
We have a love for you if you can just
Wait a minute while we answer the damned
Phone. Take a mint, a cup of drab coffee
In a styrofoam cuticle, a finger-cup.
We know, you know this quick attention
We call love will not sustain you, but
We've managed to crawl out upon this ledge,
This bookstore, coffeehouse, imported goods store,
Where we demand the opportunity to lie
In the small capital of sun
We've earned. You are of course part
Of it, we won't let the coffee go,
Or fail to see how you've transformed
Your tiny cuticle of realm into
Intellectual paradises. But we have to do
The books. It's time, in fact, it's
Way past time. And you know the way out,
Through the door that rings a stranded bell,
To tell us you've gone, rather like
Those quasars now and then in the newspaper
Saying to a silent scientist some star
Has wrapped the focus of its intent
Around a blank nodule, cancer beam,
For which we have no further mercy,
No X-ray to explain our cold heart.
We of All Saints
We of all saints have shown the least devotion.
At the time we were driving and the radio had gathered
From passing farmscapes it seemed, with drifting silos
That had the prettiness of ambition to round them out,
Such pretty and relentless songs of love that could not
Quiet the soul at 60 mph. We of all saints could reach into
Wind by the window that our engineered wheels
Created us into, we were the wind while the air was still
Enough that corn waited in attention to the sun, it was
Angelic on the road, and this was god enough.
We of all saints spent lives that earth terrified
Only occasionally with dying, the dog smacked into,
The little newspaper girls trapped in photo'd wells
Crying for their feet back on national TV. Prayers
Were reinvented and placed in bookstores under signs
Unsignifying but touching enough to say, someday, some-
Day will come the colossal unsinging of unmercy's gold
In a bookstore with the PA system's silence humming
A heedless grace in the pretty stacks, sometime the saints
Will arrive with rusty trombones, woodcut faces
Blasted with hateful honor to add to traffic
The whine of their ways, and we will wonder what
Collegium set us to choir with their esteem, when
The ride through the countryside with the radio's prayer
Seemed more eventful than chapel myths, the mild farm
Close enough to death with grazing beasts.