The old poet walks downs the streets of his dying city.
The ancient tenements, stories upon stories of them,
rise up before him. He thinks he may have inhabited them. He remembers- he built them but never inhabited
them. He looks closer and the bricks are in the shape
of his mothers teeth-square and right and just;
the broken windows yellow with known fingerprints; the
stairways littered with trimmings long since abandoned.
He looks through his pockets for the list of places he
has been to, starting with the most distant- or
was it places that he has not been to?
He can’t find it. It has been lost lost, misplaced.
Did he ever write it at all? He doesn’t know the
answer to that, will never know the answer to that.
“Being an old poet is very difficult,” he thinks.
“It takes time and will I don’t have anymore.
Every heart use to be open up like a hospitable inn.”
He chuckled admiring but also hating the simile
he used infrequently in his own poems. How he
couldn’t finish reading poems that started with them,
were nothing but them, or even used more than two.
In his wanderings through memory he couldn’t
distinguish whether himself or another poet
wrote what he was reading now. The voice
was familiar. So was the tone. It was always
that lonely one- the one at the edge of
the forest of eternity. He remembered
the times he had scooted indoors to avoid
the rush and noise of the crowd to search
and find the words all can understand
but only he could find and write.
Now, everything felt like it would be the last one.
“Nothing for the last time. Everything for the last time.”
Did he write it or did that cunt poet Stanley Moss?
He knew the next lines by heart:
“..the last meditation, the last falling asleep,
the last dream before the final make believe,
the last kiss good night, the last look out
the window at the last moonlight.”
Those lines were so damn good,
he must have written them.
There is birdsong outside and over it
a maid singing in Spanish. The voice
sounded like his mother’s song.
The song could have been about cleaning,
doing laundry, fixing and making
things up and putting things back
in their proper places. Or it could
have been about the bird singing,
the dogs barking. Just life. Anything.
He felt it was like something
he was never meant to know.
In the broken street, broken walk
below him he noticed a broken
umbrella and a pair of lady’s
discarded sandals. He opened
the umbrella as far as it could
be opened and danced in small
pirouettes around the lamppost
in front of him, like in that
Gene Kelly movie. He put
the sandals backwards on his
feet and imagined a beautiful
blonde partner dancing with him.
She knew all the steps perfectly.
She could even do them backwards.
He felt safe in this waltz of ideas.
An Old Poet
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