The Father of the Predicaments
He came at night to each of us asleep And trained us in the virtues we most lacked. Me he admonished to return his stare Correctly, without fear. Unless I could, Unblinking, more and more incline Toward a deep unblinkingness of his, He would not let me rest. Outside In the dark of the world, at the foot Of the library steps, there lurked A Mercury of rust, its cab half-lit. (Two worldly forms who huddled there Knew what they meant. I had no business With the things they knew. Nor did I feel myself Drawn back through Circulation into Reference, Until I saw how blue I had become, by virtue Of its five TVs, their monitors abuzz with is's Etymologies...)
From The Father of the Predicaments, forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press in September 1999. Copyright © 1999 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted by permission of the author.