“Your gang’s done gone away.”
—The 119th Calypso, Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Something seems to have gnawed that walnut leaf.
You face your wrinkles, daily, in the mirror.
But the wrinkles are so slimming, they rather flatter.
Revel in the squat luck of that unhappy tree,
who can’t take a mate from among the oaks or gums.
Ah, but if I could I would, the mirror version says,
because he speaks to you. He is your truer self
all dopey in the glass. He wouldn’t stand alone
for hours, without at least a feel for the gall of oaks,
the gum tree bud caps, the sweet gum’s prickly balls.
Oh, he’s a caution, that reflection man.
He’s made himself a study in the trees.
You is a strewn shattered leaf I’d step on, he says.
Do whatever it is you’d like to do. Be quick.
and yet we think that song outlasts us all: wrecked devotion
the wept face of desire, a kind of savage caring that reseeds itself and grows in clusters
oh, you who are young, consider how quickly the body deranges itself
how time, the cruel banker, forecloses us to snowdrifts white as god’s own ribs
what else but to linger in the slight shade of those sapling branches
yearning for that vernal beau. for don’t birds covet the seeds of the honey locust
and doesn’t the ewe have a nose for wet filaree and slender oats foraged in the meadow
kit foxes crave the blacktailed hare: how this longing grabs me by the nape
guess I figured to be done with desire, if I could write it out
dispense with any evidence, the way one burns a pile of twigs and brush
what was his name? I’d ask myself, that guy with the sideburns and charming smile
the one I hoped that, as from a sip of hemlock, I’d expire with him on my tongue
silly poet, silly man: thought I could master nature like a misguided preacher
as if banishing love is a fix. as if the stars go out when we shut our sleepy eyes