This hews you to your statue:
Flakes away the flesh
Back to bone intellect;
Lays bare the brow, pure semi-circle.
Star-striking dome—
Sidera sublime vertice—
Proves finally your head was Roman.

This seals your eyelids; sharpens
The nose, so sensual once,
To a pure triangle; this drills
Into the base, the nostrils.

Hid in the creviced mouth
Only the palate still
Savours the must of dying.

She who leans over
Your shoulder, from which the sheet
Stretches in outline to the feet,
Tugs it to make you
Recognize me: “Don’t,” I pray, “Don’t!
Don’t let him see me seeing
His onyx eyeballs shout at me from marble!”


“She was,” my father said (in an aside)
“A great beauty, forty years ago.”
Out of my crude childhood, I stared at
Our tottering hostess, trembling
In her armchair, pouring tea from silver—
Her pink silk dress, her pale blue gaze—
I only saw her being sixty-five,
I could not see the girl my father saw.

Now that I’m older than my father then was
I go with lifelong friends to the same parties
Which we have gone to always.
We seem the same age always
Although the parties sometimes change to funerals
That sometimes used to change to christenings.

Faces we’ve once loved
Fit into their Seven Ages of Man as Russian dolls
Fit into one another. My X-Ray memory
Penetrates through the several covers
Of the successive dolls back to the face
That I first saw. So when the exterior final
Doll is laid under its final lid
Your glowing firstseen face shines through them all.

This Issue

June 24, 1976