L.B. (1955–1979)

Of that year I remember the soft gauzy
Whitish lump of goat cheese going bad

Like some alchemical disaster turning day
To lead; the Cretan sun so much Minoan

Bull-leapers’ somersaulting glory; and you
Looking down the long sluice of months

Toward the metonymy of hospital walls,
Gums dyeing your first Greek hours,

Smearing the hope that brought you here
For one last fling at life .... Recovering

From the flight, you pondered my room’s
Garish poster of Manhattan’s skyline,

Epic in black and white. You caught flaws 
In its silhouette only a native could,

Seated before the memory of all you were.
What height had you risked, Lloyd, to come

From the bedridden gloom of Astoria, Queens,
Just to face anachronistic splendor?—you

Whose marrow I’d soon sift through fingers
On a hillside far from any possible future:

Snow’s soot on a Catskill lake, after our
Palms patted the silvered seam of earth down.

From The King’s Question by Brian Culhane. Copyright © 2009 by Brian Culhane. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.