I Have Not Come Here to Compare Notes But to Sit Together in the Stillness at the Edge of This Wound

David Kirby

Asked if it isn’t weird to be at an awards ceremony with Gregory Peck,
Dylan says, “Well, listen, everything’s weird. You tell me something

that’s not weird.” He might as well have said “big,” that his songs are
a witness to magnitude, that your poems are. And why shouldn’t they be?

Look at the epic of your life, at the people in it, all heroic. And to think
it began with an accident. Somebody looked up at the night sky and saw a star,

somebody in Cracow or Belgrade, maybe, or the city where you live now.
Carbon, nitrogen . . . there was an explosion, and now you have to pay attention

to everything. At the party, everyone was talking about the crappy TV series
that’s so popular, and you didn’t say you wanted better, wanted more.

That same night, you met the man you’d love so hard it made your teeth hurt.
He said, “Hey, baby,” and you snapped, “I’m not your baby.”

I have nothing to say to you, really. I just want to see what I’m looking at.
I want so much not to listen to you after all this time but to hear.

More by David Kirby

The Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart

I'm bouncing across the Scottish heath in a rented Morris Minor
		and listening to an interview with Rat Scabies, drummer
of the first punk band, The Damned, and Mr. Scabies,
	who’s probably 50 or so and living comfortably on royalties,
is as recalcitrant as ever, as full of despair and self-loathing,

but the interviewer won't have it, and he keeps calling him "Rattie,"
		saying, "Ah, Rattie, it's all a bit of a put-on, isn't it?"
and "Ah, you're just pulling the old leg now, aren't you, Rattie?"
	to which Mr. Scabies keeps saying things like
"We're fooked, ya daft prat. Oh, yeah, absolutely—fooked!"

Funny old Rattie—he believed in nothing, which is something.
		If it weren't for summat, there'd be naught, as they say
in that part of the world. I wonder if his dad wasn't a bit of a bastard,
	didn't drink himself to death, say, as opposed to a dad like mine,
who, though also dead now, was as nice as he could be when he was alive.

A month before, I’d been in Florence and walked by the casa di cura where
		my son Will was born 27 years ago, though it's not a hospital
now but a home for the old nuns of Le Suore Minime del Sacra Cuore
	who helped to deliver and bathe and care for him when he was just
a few minutes old, and when I look over the gate, I see three

of these holy sisters sitting in the garden there, and I wave at them,
		and they wave back, and I wonder if they were on duty
when Will was born, these women who have had no sex at all,
	probably not even very much candy, yet who believe in something
that may be nothing, after all, though I love them for giving me my boy.

They’re dozing and talking, these mystical brides of Christ,
		and thinking about their Husband, and it looks to me
as though they’re having their version of the sacra conversazione,
	a favorite subject of Renaissance artists in which people who care
for one another are painted chatting together about noble things,

and I'm wondering if, as I walk by later when the shadows are long,
		will their white faces be like stars against their black habits,
the three of them a constellation about to rise into the vault
	that arches over Tuscany, the fires there now twinkling,
now steadfast in the chambered heart of the sky.

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Least Said

Maybe we you us
But not everyone except
Everyone else seemingly set
One could romanticize the shipbells
Out of somebody else's grocery, sex shopping, life cleaning, bills 
Of sail. When they had fresh grapefruit it was nothing like you not having
Scurvy, with or without the vodka. Your friends 
Did they still say things (?) and the masses—
No, one didn't want to picture that vast
Writhing. Self-love is better left to this selective peculiar:
One shelf over, top shelf. The yeats, the years, none of it
More real than this. The judgment, the particular partings:
Reading a new yorker article about you. Reading. An article.
A small monster at my toe. There was once a long lusty list but
The only thing s/he had on me was feet. I went to course, to game, to 
College. The epiphany was not worth dwelling (placement word of 
Your choice here). Not to speak of, or the her, him, him before him, your last 
Lover but, "seeing someone else right now"? Mostly, the possessive pronoun
"Her" in the next clause. Whose unfairness? Be spoken and be longing. 
(An embarrassment of melons and heavily salted meats.)
The thing you will miss was being sexy, you will forget that you went 
Forgetting all along; the whole ride. Going, going. Not coming. Reading,
Too closely, will fail my the measure of some treasure 
You believe exists, but how? Morning was the only mooring: feeling, 
Thinking, seeing no one. Right 
Now. Or now. Barely tolerated, living.