Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1

from Ampersand Revisited

            I still get it wrong. I thought the important part was the room where we lay in an overcast

            and not the poems M. wrote. The fixed places where she felt she had to trail off.

            In those days, I was little more

            than centrifugal force and offhand comments. So I actually thought there might be
an explanation in the muffled line breaks

            of her secretly copied poems.

            In fifty words so spare you could stencil them above a doorway to stop the
angel from pausing. Which is to say: to make the angel go by.

            Now when I brush the page clean of hesitations, her poems

            are echoes of Sappho without the inconvenient other women—lyric endearments
shipwrecked in random places.

            That’s why I like to think that Sappho would have loved her strangely,

            being dead and densely lettered as the numbers on dice.

            And I’m not merely courting the indifference of a woman who licked her last hypothetical two thousand years ago.

            I’m just saying I love to get it wrong.

            Perhaps the reason why I’ve loved the direct address all these years is because you can talk to the beloved and the reader

            without each one really knowing

            about the other.  end