When you’d died
and they’d taken you away
and burnt you next day
all we were left with
was your whole life
packed in between the walls
nothing thrown away
a path through it
doors that opened or shut
boxes drawers cupboards
dressers trunks folders
I’d think I knew you
photos in cigar boxes
notebook lists of anecdotes
from the presidents’ lives
then find another thing
jar full of beard trimmings
secret mailorder magazines
bag of your own teeth
ticked list with the dates
of every half- or quarter-cigarette
you’d smoked recently
which were smoked with Larry
boxes of paperbags
that letter that ashtray
that hint of a romance
or was it nothing at all
in the end
all that was possible
was to just invent you
and say I’d known
(after Yosa Buson)
That morning you had reassured me
before we said goodbye.
At evening my heart was in a thousand pieces
and the pieces scattered.
Thinking of you, I wandered.
The world had been so full of you
it didn’t occur to me to wonder
that the hills themselves were in mourning:
Pathfinder in shade, prairie stars white in sun –
and no one to look at them.
I heard a pheasant calling and calling
Crossing the river, I thought:
once you lived on the other side.
You left in the evening,
at morning my heart was still,
my heart that you had steadied,
in a thousand pieces.
Ghostly smoke rises a little before
the north wind that blows it away
across the deadgrass fields,
through the winter-stripped coppices.
Once you lived across the river;
You were everywhere, like smoke,
like memory, so when you are gone,
who can I be, stripped of a past?
I stripped dead leaves from branches
wove a hut to sit in
sat there alone all day
and long into the invaluable evening.
Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare…
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Was heard on occasion to say
That only the author of Euclid’s Elements
Had ever seen Beauty without habiliments.
One supposes she meant to imply that people who do maths
Have taken quite the best of all available paths
And that study of the other sciences might be eschewed
If one wished for a chance to see Beauty nude.
But I wonder what she’d have said had she lived to learn
About the physicists at CERN
Who have managed to catch the Higgs Boson
Without any clothes on?
“As I have said so many times,
God doesn’t play dice with the world.”
Albert Einstein got panics
From quantum mechanics;
He would have found the world far nicer
Had God not been a dicer.