STALKING ee IN THE FIFTIES
I knew him by his tonsure,
head bare as a Buddhist monk
or a bowl holding lower case letters
that poured out on a page.
I almost saw that spillage
running out of his hands as he unlatched
the gate of Patchin Place;
O, ee, I followed him down Sixth
in jacket weather, he, neatly made
and wearing tweed. At the bakery
he pointed to swirls of pastry. A baguette
poked out of his paper bag like a periscope.
I remember asters, mums at the florist. Purple, pink
peeped out of the wrappings.
In the deli he would pick
Genoese salami, sliced thin, my favorite,
or half-sour pickles, the color of lagoons
in Lamour, Hope, Crosby films?
Far from frangipani, ee turned towards Sixth,
his face a mask, and I followed like Old Dog Tray
pretending the letter I’d never mail:
Your “Somewhere I have never traveled”
charts my realm, too, even as I step from here to there,
too moony by half to ask for your autograph.
I failed to say I lived with Roethke’s “sadness of pencils”
in gray cubicles, carbon paper stains
on hands that itched to compose
more than shaky notes for poems after squabbling
with a lover, “glad and big.”
Moaning through rooms of maybe and no,
I wanted the impertinence of Edward Estlin C, to tease
a sort of antic beauty of words reckoned on the page.
O, ee I wanted to leave
my lip prints on the flap of an envelope
holding the poems I’d never send,
though I could have left them at your door,
you were that near
when I stalked you back then
in love with your line
—from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation