I’m not reclined upon a pillow of stones,
but awake upright on a sofa on 102nd Street.
I’m in my twenties, a new lover’s arm around me,
his hand on my left shoulder, “His voice is like
a whisper…” on the stereo. A blue flame outside
my line of vision—a voice yet not a voice—has found
a resting place above the flat part of my head.
The voice/not-a-voice is also standing somewhere near.
It has a body/not-a-body. And like beer cans in a pack, like
the pence in Sing-a-Song Of…, like the senses (if you count
intuition) and the days of creation before rest, the syllables
I hear/don’t hear number six: You have always been loved.
While feeding the garden today,
our twenty-fourth May together,
I saw a man on a fire escape tie
the ends of long strings to a rail
and drop the other ends down
five stories to boxes below
where he had planted seeds
that will send vines back up,
twining around their strings,
and by mid to late summer
trumpets will blossom,
mostly white, a bluish tint.
“White,” I heard the man tell
his aide, “is the best shade
of flower for your city clients,
They’re up at dark, not home
‘til after dusk. They’ll look
out their window and white
is the color they’ll see best
and how proud they’ll feel
looking at their white flowers,
as if they had planted them,
as if they had invented white.”
“And finally,” stated the computer analysis
of the personality inventory I’d taken decades back:
“You tend to use people.”
I recalled that terse bit of Hal-speak six falls ago
when I found, coming home after months
of writer’s retreats, that my honey’s gal-pal
had implied in my absence
that I play on his goodness by sporting
as he slaves. And he must have agreed
since he felt the need to quote the meddler.
What did this mean?
Don’t lovers use each other to some degree? Isn’t that
how it works? Something was out
of whack and we weren’t sure how to fix it,
so we were off to see the Wizard.
But no more tests, sir. Spare us.
You are asleep tonight and I have just written
on a stiff-backed pad, “How do you give to a gift?”
One of your hands is touching my bare shoulder.
The pen in my hand is almost weightless as my grip loosens.
We have climbed naked on each other tonight.
We have rubbed each other’s feet—because hands
can soften feet, because blossoms
can change their color at night, because twenty-four
is divisible by four. Soon
I’ll set my pen on the nightstand and drop
the pad to the floor. Maybe I won’t snore too loudly,
maybe you won’t make that sad whimper.
I’ll turn off the lamp with two clicks. The first
will brighten the pink bulb, the second will turn it off until
the hour on the digital clock reads the same as
the degrees of Kevin Bacon,
the gossip page of the NY Post,
Goliath’s height in cubits.
Photo by – raphael perez/Flickr