All afternoon: the rain, monotonous, my prison bars.
This room, the monotony of my body, spirit up against it,
cell within the cell. How is it once
I had to call to you who daily now appear
wrapped in dark clouds, storming my study’s view
upon the backyard, to soliloquize and brood,
utterly unasked for? Now you are here, ranting,
the black sun rising as melancholy locks me up
inside a moment I cannot move beyond.
Hamlet, I am sentenced to you, whom I hoped
after my youth to break out of, to be
as other men, outgrowing your indecisions,
vatic and manic, for the world of business
paved with busyness, reorganized each morning.
Now I am too long melancholy, fifty-three,
to shake off these poles in which I vacillate
unable to take hold, seize, articulate
even my love to three children or a wife
without some swoon or rage or savage quip
which answers to the name of action. I would banish
you to a foreign country under false pretense
did I know I would flee myself
in that self-same breath. Hush, brother,
the rain begins to fall more softly
hearing me confessing this. Now you can sleep.
I’ll keep the watch all night if need be for your sake.
We have the ghosts of more than fathers between us, stalking.
Even as a little one I know this darkness,
nameless. What I did not know:
it can be taught to speak.
I walk with it as the other boys
run past together, barreling against each other,
oblivious to us in the summer light
I see now in part. I am bound up
in myself. I run here, inside.
Deathless, she comes down to me
in the school library just as I begin
to find my body rising, willfully.
She knows a harder dark,
Dickinson tells me, poem after poem,
the heft of hers stretches, a circumference,
my own may lie in. I promise my allegiance:
if I keep speaking, From this next breath
all your possibilities will follow me
she swears, her mouth over mine,
and no one need ever know our secret.
And then the shadows, together with the light
as they have this afternoon, mid-winter,
possibly may syncopate, and I will walk
transcribing rhythms, stumbling necessarily.
And by such method come to happinesses,
small as they bay be, while the years pass through me.