for Joseph Brodsky

Some evening, after I’ve been dead a few years,
when the cabs are busy sideswiping each other in the rain
just as they’re doing right now (a few things won’t have changed
that much), maybe I’ll be the sensation of a cool hand
on your forehead as you drive across what’s left of the Brooklyn Bridge
into Manhattan and look up, suddenly not yourself,
at the tall black monuments stacked this way and that in the
sulphurous airOr maybe I’ll be the radio glow’s low-volume sibilance of words and
musicyou’ve been hearing but not really listening to, or the surmise
starting to come to you as you take a right onto 6th Avenue, a moment
of silence in the storm carrying headlong more or less everybody
toward the latest spectacles of love and corruption. And yet, and yet—
later that night, for one reason or another, maybe you’ll think of me
and spill a few willy-nilly drops from your shot of Bushmills onto the
floorin memory of my first steps into eternity.

This Issue

June 6, 1996