As if I was a kid walking to school
in the morning chill, I suppose I was
twelve or thirteen. Up Rosemary Street
to the tracks. And ever since. A small poem
by Ezra Pound. It worked. It looked like a poem
should look, though when you read it, out loud, it's
too delicate, the words were, the way
they were themselves, one after another.
I couldn't say them right because I couldn't
talk like that. No one ever talked like that.
They were written. You looked at them. I could
hear them in their own silence, in
my own silence, but I could not say them.
They may as well have been engraved
on a headstone. That's more than
fifty years ago. Half a century.
Apparently that's not even as long
as a heartbeat.
Last night was a long one in the ER.
I couldn't move for the cables attached
to my body. Doctor Wang gave me
an aspirin. Death is not optional, he
said, as if his exasperations
were supposed to be important to me.
Later, when I asked him if that was something
he thought about a lot, he ran away.
ER docs have short attention spans. This one
wanted to bully a poet. An old frightened
poet with a tough pain in his chest.
A poet, as he is one, is a poor man.
Like the Egyptian fellah said, Our
lives are the cheapest in the world.