Beckett got
stabbed by
pliant spear
of a stranger,
one Paris night.
Just missed
the lungs. He,
lean warrior,
spent two
weeks in hospital,
descended upon by
all the Joyces
(James, Nora, Lucia)
and some Becketts
(mother, brother)
and Suzanne,
the girlfriend nobody
knew about yet
(not even Sam),
whom he would marry
fifty years hence
with a flicker of shyness
still in his eyes—no,
I made that up. But
what he does say,
of the two
ancient (Endgame) enemies:
“that’s Suzanne and me!”
Now don’t you wonder
what remarks passed
from Suzanne to Lucia
or mother to Clov
leaning over the bed
in that battle-bright room?
Well, it isn’t bright
(battle) and
no one is
alive who remembers.
Everything I can tell you
about that room or
those lavish souls
is just my own
fear of death blowing around on the floorboards.
Blowing sand around.
You know,
in the old days,
I, a poet,
would lean back
in my saddle,
recite a poem
of sublime sense,
fill you with ferocity,
then together
we’d ride off
over the black sand,
past moonlit ruins,
to our destination,
with not a thought
of food or drink,
and if I, a poet,
were asked
for details
of battle
I’d quote
‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad*
“the antelopes sprinted right and left”—
wondering could I
smuggle a flicker
of shyness into
antelope eyes
and parley
my own death
one more