I Dream of You as the Mother and of the Poet of She Who is the Death of Orpheus in Your Dream
Sheen on your hair on the back of your book
jacket. Intellect’s steel, perhaps I said.
My friend and teacher until we did not talk,
as I heard you might not to men. Once
I had said I wanted no poems
of false problems. For instance, a boy scolded
by the mother in a dream of the dark for a girl’s
kiss of tense, pure joy.
How language betrays; how she keeps lost,
I said, as long as she was these words.
But you wrote of language, the act, to raise the blinds
and purge the dark with sun. The page
so white, the black type luminous
past all logic if we can believe. Your eyes
fierce, or so I imagined. So much light
wanting to be matter. The lioness
on the veldt. The moon, like the sun, lit
by itself. Not posed turned from the lens,
seductive to men, but she from the dream of the Mother
of stone and bronze. As I saw you last
week, after years, a stranger
to me, arthritic, limping like one from war
or accident past Sheridan Square before
the cars in the wind. A suicide’s wife,
a mother of sons, a father’s daughter,
feminist, lesbian. You who had dreamed herself
shut from strength —now womanly, strong, a survivor.
I thought of your rage, and its rage for words
to end hurt, Your husband who put
the gun barrel in his mouth. Isolate
to the consonants’ howls the vowel’s dirge. The wrath
of monuments and breath. A false problem
if human contact is endlessly possible,
but, horribly, it had not been solved. He stood,
your poem says, for none but himself But here
he stands, not to project on the dead
but as death with its silence, that language.
For stubborn against judgment, even your silence,
I would not call to you. Whoever you thought
I was: alone on that street,