Oct 182014
 
My Jenny, my jewel, the house echoes
with your wintery tread, a diamond rolled
loud on an overturned aluminum canoe;
you walk about like one who is school-tired 
to the point of ill-temper, a scholar
flopped among her hundred books.

How often I recall my own school days
in dry colloquy with old professors,
ghosts of poetry who remain spirit-limber
in my reminding mind--strong with witch-words
that evoke in me heaven-pastures 
where angels nod don-like over tomes
cloud-lovely and limned with golden words
as if sunset were always nigh, yet never
setting into that charlike dark beyond the page
where thumb and gilding meet and part.
And so I see you, conversing briskly
with rows of unknowing pupils, tipping
cups of milky knowledge into empty mugs....

Here beneath our roof of snow you move
in moody silence, heavily, from chair to chair,
arranging tests and essays like a stack
of X-rays shimmering to heart and bone
of your young charges now dimly abed
and dreaming--while wild outside
the February wind whistles wickedly,
and I sit meditative in a half-daze of dream,
remembering with the flickering wind
just how young (how young!) I once was
in poetry--knowing only that I didn't know 
the myriad ways of verse, but loved all
that poetry somehow made me feel--as a child
knows nothing, but knows that love is there
in the downward glow of its mother's downy face.
If I could contain so much of ignorance
all at once, surely one day my knowledge
could grow as great?

The book has flattened on my lap
that kept me wondering while you worked--
airy fancies that troubled old Coleridge:
his fire's stranger-ash floating over 
flaming bars as he watched lost in thought
in his humble Cot, all his guests asleep,
his singing-self a stranger like the rest!
Here, the wind-berated moon huddles low
over apartment eves;  each push and punch
of night-wind tells--not of strangers beyond the sill,
but how alone we are when we are ourselves!
I see my ignorance with sleepy eyes
and measure new ignorance by those stars
ranged primly distant, too far to touch
their fire--almost too far to see....
What passion keeps them steady in their skies,
astral marks that tell us where we are?
When it's all too much for me, too many
confusions and cavilings railing in my brain, 
all I can think to think, or think to say
as the Little Dipper sinks and darkness greys
confusing eye and atmosphere,
is that a flame grows narrow at its tip.

Jenny, I look about me once again,
rising itinerant until I find my final bed
beyond these rooms we share and shape with life.
Nearby, you bend to the stuttering stove,
a companionable grace in increasing night,
quiz-work kept neatly stacked at the long table,
and strike a fresh match to the unprimed grate--
over-watching the tiny flame with as careful eye 
as God might over-watch the infant heat 
of Adam in early earth's so-cold bowl--
and soft! within the iron grate, with whisper
sweet, bluely ignites the tender pilot light,
set to burn as long as attendant gas serves as wick
to what your human hands had clicked awake.


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