Letters Archive
Spring 1998, Vol. 6, No.2
  • Examining Secrecy and Sexuality
  • Celebrating Ten Years
  • Fellows Look Back at the Center's First Decade
  • His Long Home
  • His Long Home

    FOR RPW, 1905-1989

    Of Course

    From lips notched in the pinebranch bled
    no confession, but a clot of resin.
    Such currency
    in winter. No need to notch

    the stream, ice-choked but still
    greenly slurring
    past boulders and scragwood to some ever-lapsing
    period not even January

    can grant. If you and I
    stand, in silence, to observe
    that pregnant snowcloud stalled
    on Stratton's frozen stoop

    it is the knowledge
    that what courses between us, runs
    under the rind of winter
    so deep, no blade can coax it.

    Storm, Summer

    At first a numbness
    gaining on the surface of the pond,
    a twitching in birch and poplar leaves,
    tremor in the flat, symmetrical branchtips of
    balsam fir.
    Then thunder surges, thudding from ridge to ridge,
    a seizure of rain
    sunders spiderwebs, pummels leafmold,
    drowns out the true confessions of the brook.
    While we cower on the porch
    it passes
    like a spasm,
    heaves itself into the valley
    over the notch.
    Sky shimmers in the pond again,
    breeze fondles the leaves.
    We're still here. Waiting.

    Your skin

    as fragile, pale, and infinitesimally moist
    as erasable bond;
    your look, a startled bound
    of apprehension, subsiding
    into its lair.
    You coil away from us:
    we hunt you down.
    Groping, you half-rise:
    we escape, leave you there.
    What intersection can we appoint
    between your knowledge and ours?

    Two days before

    you died, we saw your death
    funneling in at the eye, your pupil fixed,
    tiny, waking neither
    to light nor to shade

    so that your wisdom drained
    inward where only
    reverberations of our
    voices fathomed:

    yet you held us still
    kindly, having foreknown
    the sere flame tasseling
    the roof beam, the palace wall

    sinking but invisible
    to the chorus; and in the teeth
    of our denial
    had already greeted

    the strange man you alone
    saw loitering by the porch,
    had wrenched up your
    emaciated smile: "Come in! Come in!"

    Rosanna Warren allowed Letters to reprint this
    poem in memory of her father. This is from her volume,
    Stained Glass, with the permission of W.W. Norton
    and Company, Inc.

    Letters Archive Index

    For more information, contact the Center's executive director, Mona C. Frederick.

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