Sunday, November 4, 2007

Second Time Around

Carolyn Kizer (1998)

You're entangled with someone more famous than you
Who happens to vanish.
You marry again in haste, perhaps to a nurse
Or your late wife's good friend,
Someone whose name will never appear in print
Except, perhaps, in your entry for Who's Who;
Someone obliging and neutral, not too good looking
To whom you say, "Darling, the supper was excellent."
Free, now, of that brilliant aura, that physical dazzle
That you always acknowledged, insisting
You relished her fame, believing you meant it,
And love her you did, but you're so relieved she's gone.

How sweet to embrace the mundane, endorse the ordinary,
In its starchy smock or its ruffled apron,
Saying, "Bronwyn—or Carole, or Elsie—
Suits me down to the ground." The ground.
There's to be no more celestial navigation;
It's the end of smart missives, of aerial bombardment.
One can relax, and slump into being human.

Sometimes you sift through her papers
When you're bereft of ideas,
Though of course ideas are not what stimulates art:
It's snapshots of people in old-fashioned bathing suits,
The man she saw by the road with the three-legged dog,
That week in Venice when it never stopped raining, the odor
Of freshly washed hair when she dried it in sunlight . . .
Something she lightly sketched in that needs fleshing out.

Could you? Should you? You put it to one side.
With a minor effort of will you stop thinking about her,
And decide instead to update your vita,
Or work some more on that old piece
On Descartes that has always given you trouble.
And Bronwyn, or Elsie, or Carole
Comes tiptoeing into your study with a nice cup of coffee.

1 comment:

dan said...

from The Best American Poetry (1998)