Thursday, February 20, 2014


After your family left,
  taking what of your strange estate
    would precede your pale bones home
after I loaded their station wagon,
   and we wept a last time together,
     to wave them--an airplane was waiting--
off, into the blue dawn,
  I folded what remained of your wardrobe
   (most of it;they took
     only what wouldn't need ironing,
leaving the silks and linens, the "natural
   fibers " you prized so much behind)
   the shape of you was still in them,
the fedora, the elegantly creased trousers,
   and almost as if to amuse ourselves
     I began to try them on

Behold me,then,
   as the mirror did, sadly
  assuming your various  personae
with scant success, one by one,
   missing your snort of derision
    at my metamorphoses, only partial,
into a Regency rake in brocade,
   a teddy-boy by the docks
   (how thin I had become
these last months, if not yet
   as weightless as ash)

Taking solace, none-the-less
  in the vain hope of a new life
   that a change in costume implies,
gradually in the process of wearing you
  I discovered a face in the mirror
    neither quite mine or your own,
one to be cruised in the shade or  the alleyways
    while remaining aloof, elusive,
     making an internal tally
of the arrows which fell at my feet
   deflected (by you.?) into a smokeless  pyre

During this period,
   the living involuntarily testified
    to the theory that there is little difference
between the lands of the living and the dead
    (else the partition had grown thin)
    Certainly, the monologues of my acquaintances
said verbatim as if replayed on a gramophone
   ( whether about real estate
      or how many angels might reel
      through a needle's eye)
provided no comfort,
   equally irrelevant was theology,
     styles of steles in pallid Elysium,
the mud huts and razored walkways
   of the Enuma Elish
for all the while your boots
   made their same singalong
    clippity clop

In them, I found myself circling
   the dubious precincts
where the disconsolate go searching for love,
   bars where they gathered
   to ignore each other
in favor of an imaginary ideal,
   Or  down the much  trammeled coverts
    where hidden orgies are,
watching  them,untouchable,
     more of a ghost than a voyeur
knowing that you'd been there before me,
    the direction  remained in the soles of your shoes

Gradually,  they wore out
 nor did I take them to the cobbler,
   items flamboyant
   were replaced by the functional,
others were lost--socks first--
    or went to Goodwill,
what remains I wear
   now and then as a souvenir
of the synthesis of our karma,
    however incomplete

Writing you from another coast,
   almost another country,
I find little else to report,
   save a dream of a room
    --a huge closet--
where you lingered
   both a child and a garment,
    waiting to be worn,
looking forlorn and lost,
   yet someone
   was coming to fetch you,
your waiting was done,
  whether to clothe you
   in flesh again or usher you
 to the circles of light
   I can not conjecture,
only that when the door opened
    you shone.

And I, arrested
   for a while in the half-life
   have started to love again,
and therefore ask your blessing,
    for purgatory
is not a place, as you know,
    but a need like fever.
(1992;the photograph is the hand of Paul Thek by Peter Hujar)



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