I wish I would like a ship that all night carries its beloved captain sleeping through no weather slip past dawn and wake with nothing but strange things that did not happen to report but I get up in the dark and parachute quietly down to the kitchen to begin the purely mental ritual plugging in of the useless worry machine above me she sleeps like the innocent still dreaming older sister to all gentle things the white screen impassively asks me to say what does not matter does so I shut it down and think about the lake near where I live it’s a lagoon getting lighter like an old blue just switched on television maybe a Zenith it has two arms they stretch without feeling east to embrace an empty park a little light then everything has a shadow I almost hear a silent bell low voices I brought us to this old city the port connects to the world where everyone pretends to know they live on an island waiting for the giant wave in some form maybe radiation in the yard the wind blows the whole black sky looks down for an instant through my sleepy isolate frame a complex child hologram flickers angrily holding a green plastic shovel then disappears leaving an empty column waiting Bill who I knew was so angry is dead whatever he was going through I kept away I never did anything I love his poem he was really good I keep forgetting his last name I always leave his handmade book on my desk not to remember but because for hours after everything everyone says sounds like a language I never knew but now speak spirit I know you would have hated how I think you would have liked this music in another room pushing the alien voice into the millennium the one you left so early spirit you were right all noble things are gone except to struggle and be loved
I wish you were here, dear, I wish you were here. I wish you sat on the sofa and I sat near. the handkerchief could be yours, the tear could be mine, chin-bound. Though it could be, of course, the other way around.
I wish you were here, dear, I wish you were here. I wish we were in my car, and you'd shift the gear. we'd find ourselves elsewhere, on an unknown shore. Or else we'd repair To where we've been before.
I wish you were here, dear, I wish you were here. I wish I knew no astronomy when stars appear, when the moon skims the water that sighs and shifts in its slumber.
I wish it were still a quarter to dial your number.
I wish you were here, dear, in this hemisphere, as I sit on the porch sipping a beer. It's evening, the sun is setting; boys shout and gulls are crying. What's the point of forgetting If it's followed by dying?
About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters: how well they understood Its human position: how it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting For the miraculous birth, there always must be Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating On a pond at the edge of the wood: They never forgot That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
All year the flax-dam festered in the heart Of the townland; green and heavy headed Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods. Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun. Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell. There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies, But best of all was the warm thick slobber Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied Specks to range on window sills at home, On shelves at school, and wait and watch until The fattening dots burst, into nimble Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how The daddy frog was called a bullfrog And how he croaked and how the mammy frog Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too For they were yellow in the sun and brown In rain.
Then one hot day when fields were rank With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges To a coarse croaking that I had not heard Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus. Right down the dam gross bellied frogs were cocked On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped: The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting. I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.
Dispossessed despair, depression, despondent dejection, the doom is the off-white of white. But wait, white can’t know what white feels. Where’s the life in that? Where’s the right in that? Where’s the white in that?
At the bone of bone white breathes the fear of seeing, the frustration of being unequal to white. White-male portraits on white walls were intended to mean ownership of all, the privilege of all, even as white walls white in.
And this is understandable, yes, understandable because the culture claims white owns everything—the wealth of no one anyone knows. Still the equation holds— jobs and health and schools and better than before and different from now and enough and always and eventually mine.
This is what it means to wear a color and believe the embrace of its touch. What white long expected was to work its way into an upwardly mobile fit. In the old days white included a life, even without luck or chance of birth. The scaffolding had rungs and legacy and the myth of meritocracy fixed in white.
Now white can’t hold itself distant from the day’s touch— even as the touch holds so little white would own— foreclosure vanished pensions school systems in disrepair free trade rising unemployment unpaid medical bills school debt car debt debt debt.
White is living its brick-and-mortar loss, staving off more loss, exhaustion, aggrieved exposure, a pale heart even as in daylight white hardens its features. Eyes, which hold all the light, harden. Jaws, which close down on nothing, harden. Hands, which assembled, and packaged, and built, harden into a fury that cannot call
power to account though it’s not untrue jobs were outsourced and it’s not untrue an economic base was cut out from under. It’s not untrue.
If people could just come clean about their pain, the being at a loss when just being white is not working. Who said there is no hierarchy inside white walls? Who implied white owns everything even as it owns nothing? But white can’t strike its own structure. White can’t oust its own system. All the loss is nothing next to any other who can be thrown out. In daylight this right to righteous rage doubles down the supremacy of white in this way.