To the prisoners of form: yes, escape is possible.
To the pensioners of time: no.
The doctors had assured them that that pain
On his face was only on his face, not in his mind.
That frown, those troubled lips, the scared look—
As if what he most feared, had come true.
But no, his soul was sleeping peacefully—
His dreams were sweet dreams of boys in cassocks,
Of young girls, not there for carnal knowledge
But for emulation—as if goats could be kids again
By pretending to be The Birth itself. True,
His face was afraid, almost. Truth:
‘Almost’ is a very big word here,
A mist over a time and place,
A mist to turn into a mystery.
To the prisoners, he was too big to see through
or around. His body was not of Shakespeare’s play.
He was not that old. He was not
0f that spirit, or made of those planets.
To the pensioners, his body was
almost of the ground—
almost touching it.
That he was still alive, he never doubted.
The heave and push of his pulse remained strong.
His eyes were aflame.
If he could only laugh,
he would fit his eyes inside a balloon,
so they could float over the countryside,
alive with spirits, and still—
still sing to the cathedrals
as they languished there under the sun;
still be fond of God even though
in all your confessions hating
only the sin and not God Himself,
and not yourself as the sun rose
and the roses rose—
each one an insufficiency
a finny thing, canned and creamed
and boiled and salted;
and still see the green boughs
of summer as they
become winter’s bare bouquet.
Can you see the circumference of
the tree? Can you see the light?
What needed to move, a few leaves among the chestnut trees, moved.
Charles Garçon was confounded by the sun.
In summer this gnomon-like man
would sit among the chestnut trees
and watch time move by attending to
the shadows as they crossed lines
which were both too imaginary and
too real to be precise. In winter he
would laugh about those ‘summer fashions’ he
no longer believed in: to go to bed
before the sun had set was an absurd discovery
whose meaning could not be left unsaid;
the torture that was philosophy’s—
the parrot in the hall being a caged being,
the cage of which was made of cheap wire
and expensive noise; the chestnut received.
A microscopic riot in the rug—
as creatures so hideous they remind us
of dinosaurs beneath the twisted fabric
battle the battle of their lives.
There is intense silence.
Charles Garçon waits on the floor, alone.
Pretend to be nothing, he thinks, not even a song.
Yet the notes he makes are meant to be sung.
And so he sings, cannot help but sing.
He has no voice—no vice, I mean—
but no one cares. He is not good nor well.
But when he sings, his rug becomes a grave.
The monsters all float away.
It seems no one cares, or cares to stay.
The tiny dinosaurs are dead.
It is as if a meteor has hit the earth—again.
A yellow cloud springs from the Yucatan—again.
The earth grows cold—again.
Goodbye Garçon, goodbye.
You were once the apple of my eye.
Charley, I have no more to say to you.
Perhaps I was never sorry.
Perhaps I was never blue.
Hold this match still. Hold it high.
How light always exceeds itself.
The poetry of this pasture,
despite the smell of tobacco—
indeed—a cigar—a Cuban—
a light that is always ash white—
deceives the eye as well as the nose.
You think it’s night, don’t you?
You think it’s a field of soybeans.
You fool the eye, and, look, you fool no one.
The rain has remade a solemn forest into
a jolly field of microbes that no one still alive
can smell or taste, much less see or hear.
Hence the poem, this poem.
Only it can discern the rain as it redraws reality
in this ultimate darkness. Only it can see
the world without poetry.
How it grows, glows.