In such a season as recalls the sun, an ashtray full of pennies,
a visit to a widow leads you to wonder:
virtue and integrity, the effort to be a great man
among bouts of neuralgia, neurosis, the rum someone slipped in your soda for which you do not remember asking,
to take suitable decisions—
where is it true to say you live, when lions pace elsewhere, terrific
and recalled from memory? A river of wine, a river of honey,
a river that sings: do not ask what is suffered elsewhere.
A bridge over the river to the Bronx.
In such a season,
two kids in a sort of strange song and dance in the vestibule
of their mother’s bank lead you to wonder
how a tune might begin that praises a widow who never touches her
dead husband’s books. A sculpture unearthed
again depicts a scribe with his case and absent stylus but does not mete
the hours that passed from task to task.
What sign to make among disbelievers? You have been called
by a singer unseen and such is your nature
that even the spaces between questions calls to you.
An apocryphal lion roams the Venetian landscape.
It roams St. Petersburg, it roams the Bronx.
Your advisors despite the distance of an era awaiting
excavation only suggest what it might be like
to leave and not to abandon yourself. Apprentice the hands to the violin
to forge a memory,
to strike a path, to be your passage from uncertainty, like building a wing
on a building.
In such a season as a woman in furs puts her poodle in a cab
the scribe amends the story to end:
“And they were terrified.”
The effortless gesture, the trained arm, the hand is a voice.
The hand enthroned.
Fear and fearfulness. What you know to be
your left ventricle, where a violin awaits the accompaniment
of a provisional composition, as compassion
—what is suffered elsewhere.
What the river is like, what the war is like, what doubt is like.
The bravery to say happiness in a dark age.
We are merciless in our regrets.
Thought and thinking.
A table of friends who do not know where to begin their renditions
of all they fear they allowed to let pass.
The time spent thinking, time wasted being afraid,
knowing and responsibility, idea and mind,
thought and unknown, an actual umbrella.
Friend, have you too been abandoned?
And if so by what?
Should you, a scribe among contemporaries record them as heroes
of mystical texts?
Their fingers aren’t god.
The great permissions, the great restraints. First the songs,
then the theories.
You recover your questions:
How can the water of a lake be both clear and blue?
Have you dreamt the white flag?
To make distinctions in darkness.
A song whose only words are every way to say no.
An involuntary memory.
You praise the clear darkness.
To say no to every question is triumphant.
A great man once said, “Fresh Kills is a collage.”
A great man once said, “The mind is a mechanized Atlantic.”
To call on the widow of a great man
to be an apprentice, a scribe, to be a great man,
to be unable.
How you are seen by someone with your back toward her
in a bath of sunlight
you would be too shy to accept should you realize its presence.
And instead you turn your son’s attention to his shadow.
When the widow utters instructions for surviving a war
and likens death to bread thrown into the sea,
you understand that you do not yet know.
When your god waves from a bridge
from which he will not be talked down, the sky unravels
into a forged Venetian twilight
where you recover first one idea, then another.
The river shall gather its skirts and journey across the lion.
You are forgiven.