Robert Lowell presses a knuckle into his chin, fingers a sprouted shower of beard and his eyes peer round from the very tops of his circular frames. The volume is too heavy for one-handed reading – the sloppy brick would tear itself to chunks if left to hang. I’ll hold it like a hymnal then, closed. Not mine forever. Others will need it.
The smile blooms, his first, through a blackened crack in the lips.
Eyes locked I feed his black-and-white head
with what I wish to be true
that cannot be proven untrue
ask to bury myself in these cradles:
“No failure! Keep going! Only rung after rung after rung…”
beneath his avuncular, reassuring gaze
not the poet but
the broad black-and-white face
on a wise paper brick
my hands clutch
and hold out before me –
an offering of warm
the good / the bad
I won’t deny that it’s my fault. I let the thing in myself, through the hole I tore this morning.
I tore clear through the membrane. It was an accident. I did it while I was tearing all my head hairs out, big tufts, handfuls of suburban lawn. Then I sprouted my arms to a V and raged, red-throated while I spun around and around. I drilled my feet into the ground while I spun, roared a fool’s roar while I spun, saw the path of things, the changeability of them while I spun and wider tore the bubblegum hole and louder spat my spit-choked cry and in came the good bright head-aching news
that today is my birthday.
Smile, they urged with hungry nods, this is what fine looks like.
And though I understood them
and tried to believe
still I spun
and I spun
and dreamed I was finished.