I’m in a rodeo of fire— first responder. Into the posters and the hocus pocus we go— out of the restorative impulse, to make him something more than a limestone statue at the foot of the museum steps— fine. It’s that, precisely. It’s the clear liquid, a Pepsi. The bonsais in VanWagner’s backyard, the bonsais in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Came at me in the boulangerie,
his curly bright hair to my hands came
— this is most unorthodox
however he looks Jewish, we both look Jewish, “Are you Jewish, my friend?”
every day, nearly. Be honest, he tells me, don’t lie. I’m not. Gives me a pamphlet
that says, “Don’t take it personally” anyway & I don’t.
Tell me a story, he says, make one up. I tell him the story of Paul Bunyan
and he doesn’t fall asleep. I try John Henry; he says make one up. I don’t know right
now how to make one up. He falls asleep, that’s when I think of a story,
A series of veils suspended between catastrophe and you—
they’ve been doors, once a curtain, or equal
You who’ve established letters! And they’re comic, they include
charts, they make mention of degrees of happiness.
At least we remember the twins
who made sour faces — how often twins are like this— as dad hung the pińata.
Letters under letters over letters and care—
how often we are hospitalized, the nurse comes arms behind her back
says, “It’s just that she wants to see him, oh, she must!”
And she is ahead of the nurse, unable to contain all that we
ask her to contain. There have been veils
all of them laid to protect, except you yourself do not trust
and prefer a swift slap— because it’s quick and owed and ending.
It’s not as bad as all the land shuddering from us, I’ve seen only veils—
they are small snows— keep them I’ve asked if keeping
is what I must ask one hundred years
what must I ask?
At the waschsalon a crippled man folding his unders over there and in front of me
my unders obsoletely turning and turning.