Biography of the Poet
He’s gone over the Bridge of Sighs, feet shambling the yellowed limestone.
Probably he’s in one of the interrogation rooms. Only child, born to old parents,
he has a lot to answer for. Sins, in petto, to be named in one of the dead languages.
In his childhood, bread soldiers every breakfast, and cosseting. Her afternoons
in the sewing closet, making a winter coat for him, epaulettes in red.
What she wished for him – the armature of a king, or a legionnaire, at least.
He went out for words, went west. A newsagent on a passenger train:
Its rhythm, his rhythm. The wheel’s incessant revolution – lifelong, longlife –
satisfied in a sequence of sonnets.
Found a voice in the newspaper’s front page, impersonal as a dateline –
the only possible pattern now. The boy that was: Perishable as newsprint.
An inky lacuna in the biography: A dark pond at the centre of the hub city.
How many alleyways are there to an answer? You’d like to know –
wouldn’t you – the last thing said, the morning of his last day: I wish
someone would carry my sentences for me. They’re getting so heavy.
The human fear of night fowl comes into it, those nocturnals
who have heard it all – their finer ears – and nothing forgotten.
Past the pergola, he saw how the fog was holding up the heads of lilies,
reminding him of a weight he’d refused: A girl’s head bent toward him.
The rowboat at the pier for after. Ladder down. I wanted his torment,
the entire history of him in my breath, breathing freely. The nearest-to, this.