ABLAZE

Jack, after reading Jack

Spicer recently, I remembered

how you talked about him

as some prophet of magical writing,

and I have sensed the wraiths

shadowing your clear-eyed poems,

kneeling silent beside a mattress

on an earthen floor or staring in

one pane of a small kitchen window

overlooking a bare counter, your body-

minded pen pulling us across and in-

to some landscape we scour like

spiritual sponges, ghosts dripping

with the fullness of our deep immersion

into your bucket, your cauldron, this

vessel of inky breath we long to enter

again and again, simple zen-like moments

seen from above or outside and between

our hands—visions as arresting as the texture

of our skin, the patterns of whorls, that curl

and dexterity of our fingers, the awareness

that we too are trapped in a poem, this

flesh carriage of blood and air, where we

peek out at the marvels surrounding us

every time the shades go up and the radios

turn on, when we draw the water, cut

the apples, or smell last night’s love and

garlic as we straddle the commode. Yes,

Jack, it’s come to this: my greatest fire

is still not poetry, but each day the blaze

grows, threatening to consume me, raging

not with Biblical fury, but with the subtle

persistence of breathing, of wind in leaves.

Jack, I’ve finally fallen under that spell,

obsession, magic too old for romance,

too young to tell anyone anything conjured

up as wisdom or advice, so I will slice

the fruit, heat the coffee, and stand too long

in a hot shower, curtains pulled, eyes closed,

wafting in her steamy laughter and hair,

still coddled between her thighs, I vow

to bank this fire and reenter the silence.

 

            —for Jack Gilbert & Pam

 

 
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