There was no “affair,” it was all one-sided.
Bats fretted the treetops then pitched like darts
from the pines. At lunch an invisible presence presided
over the wines and salads as, in fits and starts,
a sinuous organ sobbed to the Bay of the Saracens
flecked with gulls’ feathers or the sails of yachts,
yet balance and perfection made no sense.
By the open-air table where I sat alone
a flock of chattering girls passed, premature sirens
fleeing like pipers from the sudden thought of a stone.
Emerald ducks paddled and stabbed their bills
in the cool dark well sacred to Arethusa.
I wondered in the inching sun how it was known
to the ferry’s horn, the pines, the Bay’s azure hills
and the jeering screaming girls that I would lose her
or to an accordion’s wandering sob and moan
through the coiled, serpentine alleys of Siracusa.

Who has removed the typewriter from my desk,
so that I am a musician without his piano
with emptiness ahead as clear and grotesque
as another spring? My veins bud, and I am so
full of poems, a wastebasket of black wire!
The notes outside are visible; sparrows will
line antennae like staves, the way springs were,
but the roofs are cold and the great grey river
where a liner glides, huge as a winter hill,
moves imperceptibly like the accumulating
years. I have no reason to forgive her
for what I brought on myself. I am past hating,
past the longing for Italy where blowing snow
absolves and whitens a kneeling mountain range
outside Milan. Through glass, I am waiting
for the sound of a bird to unhinge the beginning
of spring, but my hands, my work, feel strange
without the rusty music of my machine. No words
for the arctic liner moving down the Hudson, for the mange
of old snow molting from the roofs. No poems. No birds.

This Issue

November 19, 2009