Better, despite the worms talking to the mare’s hoof in the field; better, despite the season of young girls dropping their blood; better somehow to drop myself quickly into an old room.
Better (someone said) not to be born and far better not to be born twice at thirteen where the boardinghouse, each year a bedroom, caught fire.
Dear friend, I will have to sink with hundreds of others on a dumbwaiter into hell.
I will be a light thing.
I will enter death like someone’s lost optical lens.
Life is half enlarged.
The fish and owls are fierce today.
Life tilts backward and forward.
Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.
Yes, eyes that were immediate once.
Eyes that have been truly awake, eyes that told the whole story— poor dumb animals.
Eyes that were pierced, little nail heads, light blue gunshots.
And once with a mouth like a cup, clay colored or blood colored, open like the breakwater for the lost ocean and open like the noose for the first head.
Once upon a time my hunger was for Jesus.
O my hunger! My hunger!
Before he grew old he rode calmly into Jerusalem in search of death.
This time I certainly do not ask for understanding and yet I hope everyone else will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps on the surface of Echo Lake; when moonlight, its bass note turned up loud, hurts some building in Boston, when the truly beautiful lie together.
I think of this, surely, and would think of it far longer if I were not… if I were not at that old fire.
I could admit that I am only a coward crying me me me and not mention the little gnats, the moths, forced by circumstance to suck on the electric bulb.
But surely you know that everyone has a death, his own death, waiting for him.
So I will go now without old age or disease, wildly but accurately, knowing my best route, carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years, never asking, “Where are we going?”
We were riding (if I’d only known) to this.
Dear friend, please do not think that I visualize guitars playing or my father arching his bone.
I do not even expect my mother’s mouth.
I know that I have died before— once in November, once in June.
How strange to choose June again, so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.
Of course guitars will not play!
The snakes will certainly not notice.
New York City will not mind.
At night the bats will beat on the trees, knowing it all, seeing what they sensed all day.