After a wife's death a man may talk to his horse with a great tenderness as if, just this morning, he had tried on her pink slipper. And if he has no horse he may crack his window a little wider when it lightly rains to confirm the roofs and trees are made of paper. If there is no rain he may make himself a meal at midnight, sweet artichokes and Danish cheese, a glass of red wine. If there is no red, then white. He may suck the knife clean with his tongue. Later lying awake he may hear the wild lung of a motorcycle far off on a far road. If there is no motorcycle, a dog trying for any syllable in any known language. Something falling suddenly in the closet, according to some law.
Nearness in the dark is a kind of beauty though it is only a lampshade, a shoulder of the walnut chair. If there is no chair, then a shelf. A shelf of books with the devil's violet fedora tossed on top. Or something exotic from the sea, manta ray like the pulse in the ball of his foot. A man may walk ten steps behind
Most Recent Book: Body Betrayer (Cleveland State University Press, 1990)
his life. It may be sorrow or fear.
He may see her back like two doves rushing up where a boy has flung a handful of pebbles. If no pebbles, leaves where a masked prowler hunches, his belt of lockpicks, his bag of velvet like the one from which memory snatches. These are the possibilities, the immaculate like miracles which are nothing in themselves, but in this world a sign of angels, ghosts, supernatural beings who watch us. Who listen. Who sometimes helplessly let us stumble on their pyramids, their crude observatories or let us, generation after generation, speak to the broken horse of the human heart.
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