I need to know who lays claim to my past.
Who, of all those I was? The Geneva boy
Who learned some Latin hexameters with joy,
Lines that the years and decades have erased?
That child who searched his father’s library for
Exact details, the round-cheeked cherub storms
Of the old maps, or else the savage forms
That are the panther and the jaguar?
Or the one who opened a door and looked upon
A man as he lay drawing his last breath,
Leaving forever, and kissed in the white dawn
The face that stiffens away, the face in death?
I am those that are no more. For no good reason
I am, in the evening sun, those vanished persons.


This Issue

December 21, 1995