The intact facade's now almost black
in the rain; all
day they've torn at the back
of the building, "the oldest concrete structure
in New England," the newspaper
said. By afternoon,
when the backhoe claw appears above
three stories of columns and cornices,
crowd beneath their massed umbrellas cheer.
Suddenly the stairs seem to climb down themselves,
billowing: dust of 1907's
rooming house, this year's bake shop and florist's,
the ghosts of their signs faint
above the windows
lined, last week, with loaves and blooms.
We love disasters that have nothing to do
with us: the metal scoop seems shy, tentative,
a Japanese monster tilting its yellow head
what to topple next. It's a weekday,
and those of us with the leisure to watch
are out of work, unemployable
joined by a thirst for watching something fall.
All summer, at loose ends, I've read biographies,
Wilde and Robert Lowell, and fallen asleep
over a fallen hero lurching down a Paris boulevard,
his way to dinner or a drink,
unable to forget the vain and stupid boy
he allowed to ruin him. And I dreamed
I was Lowell, in a manic flight of failing
and ruthless energy, and understood
how wrong I was with a
which had to be like his. A month ago,
at Saint-Gauden's house, we ran from a startling
into coincidence: under a loggia built
for performances on the lawn
hulked Shaw's monument,
in its plaster maquette, the ramrod-straight colonel
high above his black troops. We crouched on wet
and waited out the squall; the hieratic woman
-- a wingless angel? -- floating horizontally
above the soldiers, her robe billowing like plaster dust,
seemed so far above us, another century's
decor, an afterthought
who'd never descend to the purely physical
soldiers, the nearly breathing bronze ranks
into a terrible compression of perspective,
as if the world hurried them into the ditch.
unreadable," Wilde said, "is what occurs."
And when the brutish metal rears
above the wall of
unglazed windows --
where, in a week, the kids will skateboard
in their lovely loops and spray
across the parking lot -- the single standing wall
seems Roman, momentarily, an aqueduct,
all that's left of something difficult
to understand now, something Oscar
and Bosie might have posed
before, for a photograph.
Aqueducts and angels, here on Main,
seem merely souvenirs; the gaps
windows opened once
into transients' rooms are pure sky.
It's strange how much more beautiful
sky is to us when it's framed
by these columned openings someone meant us
to take for stone. The enormous, articulate
nudges the highest row of moldings
and the whole thing wavers as though we'd dreamed it,
classic, and it topples all at once.
The crested iris by the front gate waves
its blue flags three days,
they vanish. The peony buds'
tight wrappings are edged crimson;
when they open, a little blood-color
will ruffle at the heart of
unbelievable white. Three weeks after the test,
the vial filled from the crook
of my elbow, I'm seeing blood everywhere:
a casual nick from the
a shaving cut and I feel the physical rush
of the welling up, the wine-fountain
dark as Siberian iris. The thin green porcelain
teacup, our homemade
rocks and wobbles every night, spins
and spells. It seems a cloud of spirits
numerous as lilac panicles vie for occupancy --
for the telephone,
happy to talk to someone who isn't dead yet?
Everyone wants to speak at once, or at least
these random words appear, incongruous
and exactly spelled: energy,
Then: M. has immunity. W. has.
And that was all. One character, Frank,
distinguishes himself: a boy who lived
in our house in the thirties,
gangster movies, longs for a body,
says he can watch us through the television,
asks us to stand before the screen
and kiss. God in garden,
out on the back porch at twilight,
I'm almost convinced. In this geometry
of paths and raised beds, the green shadows
of delphinium, there's
an unseen rustling:
some secret amplitude
seems to open in this orderly space.
Maybe because it contains so much dying,
all these tulip petals thinning
base until any wind takes them.
I doubt anyone else would see that, looking in,
and then I realize my garden has no outside, only is
As blood is utterly without
an outside, can't be seen except out of context,
the wrong color in alien air, no longer itself.
it submits to test, two,
to be exact, each done three times,
though not for me, since at their first entry
into my disembodied
was nothing at home there.
For you they entered the blood garden over
and over, like knocking at a door
because you know someone's home.
Elisa Test, three the Western Blot,
and then the incoherent message. We're
the public health care worker's
nine o'clock appointment,
she is a phantom
hand who forms
the letters of your name, and the word
that begins with P. I'd lie out
and wait for the god if
cold, the blue moon huge
and disruptive above the flowering crab's
foaming collapse. The spirits say Fog
when they can't speak
the letters collide; sometimes
for them there's nothing outside the mist
of their dying. Planchette,
peony, I would think of anything
not to say the
word. Maybe the blood
in the flower is a god's. Kiss me,
in front of the screen, please,
the dead are watching.
They haven't had enough yet.
Every new bloom is falling apart.
I would say
in the world, any other word.
-from My Alexandria