Hi friends, I don’t know how many of you were out in the audience last night—physically or in spirit—but Cynthia Cruz was everything I wanted (and needed) her to be, as a person, and as a poet. Her reading was incredible, her latest book (How the End Begins) astounds me, and speaking with her after: impeccable. Also, tacos with my pal, Joe, may have done something for the night, too. 🙂
As always, I have a favorite poem from the night that I’d like to share with you:
My brother is still alive and living
All day he stares at the dead bodies
In his garage. It isn’t a prison
He’d wish himself free of.
I visit him,
Dragging my boxes
Of books and awards
We are walking out of the city
Into the white flame of the desert.
Not unlike the Desert
Fathers walking out into Sinai.
My brother carries his briefcase
Loaded in icons and dollar bills.
He is wearing Larry Levis’s shining
Suit and black leather boots.
I am wearing a pale gown
Of sun-bleached flowers.
We are talking
About the Resurrection.
We are walking dead
Leaving the world and its sweet chorus
Of horrors behind.
There is no city
But the city within.
No door, but the door
To simple wisdom.
We walk, dumb
Into the tremendous and endless
And one other, in honor of Larry’s boots:
TO A WOMAN GLANCING UP FROM THE RIVER
On either bank,
There is a brief silence just before dawn,
And a light turned to the color of iron.
The night, rising,
Is a man stepping back from a campfire and into
Though by the time you can see those trees,
Oaks and elms, he is entirely gone,
And gone in exactly the way he desires, without
Tracks, or singing.
You will believe that every
Disappearance must have this secrecy
As if a breath were held behind a doll’s bitter face,
Bloating its skin.
Now, you watch bark drift past you to join
The smells rising off the river all summer:
Steel, and hogs,
The small fires giving out into smoke,
When your husband disappeared, it looked
As if he’d died; his shirts
Still on hangers,
And his boots still holding the delicate shapes
Of his ankles.
He simply strolled out to talk to someone
In the dusk,
And became the dusk.
It took him five minutes.
Afternoons, you drank in each bar,
And cursed even the white moths under the bridges.
You met other men.
You slept alone, or not alone, or you
Did not sleep.
You moved to the edge of town
And let your hair grow out.
At night, you listened to the wind drying the weeds.
You spoke, finally, only to clouds and trees
Along the road.
You stopped believing in sorrow.
There is a short silence just before dawn
While a flat sun comes
Over the river,
Until it fires, as if from underneath, the face
Of that water—
Which will not be troubled by your own—
And though you stare into it for a long time,
It slips past you;
The sun rises,
The water ripples and its wide back fills with light.
—“To a Woman Glancing Up from the River” by Larry Levis, previously appeared on Poetry Foundation