(For Doshia Watkins,1909-2011)
There was more in you than in me. There was
the outer core and the inner storm, the staged
whispers and curtain calls which go awry.
There was the energy I gave. There was patience,
like black birds watching from a wire,
watching the altruism of modest men.
There was the newspaper on the clapboard floor
to catch the grits and the cast-off waste,
the internal trash, the wayward words, the parts
of the mind that have malfunctioned or died.
There was the table with a glass of water
which you needed to drink, avoiding dehydration;
there was the act of love and the acts of pain.
So, then, in that cathedral of flesh, the
dream is, to make the bones, tolerable bones,
to make them squeak less, like autumn owls,
or like death's own dreary pain, as he descends.
Where your eyes, little weak black balls, had settled
on the room, where you cried out that you didn't want to be
scrubbed so hard, that was your existence, a depth
beyond the room, the nightlight, and the sick bed.
It became Pascal's room: the wager within
each finger, the talk that corrupts the light,
the acceptance of fragility, the
mumbled verses before cars have moved,
yet not the anomaly it seems
to be, from the side of the slow mouth to
the tongue, where tales from the thirties stalk
the new, prime image, the last of tired smiles.
Southern moon. Southern sun. No more of them
to be conceived. Yet, the eyes said
what they desired: speaking of the night and the time
of night, and what erupts, and what died off,
the old Raleigh clichés, the hospitality
of a tempered race. It was at the sink;
it was on the door mat, at the balmy door,
to be opened, when a century spins.
You lived: a weed which thrives, dusk
not knowing it is falling, not seeing
the creeping seasons, the bark of related trees.
The table is everything. The lamp
determined how you moved around,
if clumsily or with an erstwhile grace.
This was the beginning of trepidation,
the blasphemy of predictions, walls painted
in a yellow hemlock, to be tasted with tea.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem