The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
In the long journey out of the self,
There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places
Where the shale slides dangerously
And the back wheels hang almost over the edge
(My student, thrown by a horse)
I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.
His fingers make a hat about his head.
The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
I saw a young snake glide
Out of the mottled shade
And hang, limp on a stone:
A thin mouth, and a tongue
Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,