Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Folly's Romance

The parking lot by the garbage dump was circled by gulls,
that’s how you knew where it was when threading traffic.
Byron, Shelley, Keats before lunch, Blake, Coleridge,
Wordsworth after. Granger farmboy in Seattle,
twenty, homesick for the Modigliani love
with dark skin speaking Spanish only in her home,
working two jobs, another if she could find one,
and what did "She walks in beauty," "The Cloud," "To Autumn"
or "Tyger," "Christabel," "The Recluse" have to do
with her? He wanted a college degree,
he would get one, finally, the hard way,
failure, comeback, breakdown trying to do too much
too quickly, that too was failure, comeback now more
like resurrection, though she still lived in Granger
looking after her mother and father,
whose love had given her impetus for high school,
and that was all, time now for her own family . . .
He can remember parking by the dump daily,
the gulls wheeling above, some below already
plucking up garbage like food only the poor eat,
climbing the stairs and looking back from each level,
a place to stop to see if the sky was still dark
with gulls, they were omens that year, it was his last
before no job and no money and back he went
to canneries, unemployment, waiting . . .

Fifty one years ago the olive-skinned Irish
black hair spread over his pillow, the houseboat rocked
with waves, watching her beautiful sleeping
and called her his. His folly. Black Irish
to her core, his mother’s Orange like a cancer
in his heart grew the longer she said no, I will
not go with you, the folly would take me over
like my mother my father and I want a life
I can be happy not sad, it is all I want,
and fled, for she wanted him to be happy too,
she said. History repeats itself when folly
takes time in its teeth and devours it whole,
the woman or the man it doesn’t matter now
the sky clears long enough to turn and climb
to enter the parking lot on top where the well
to do, at least more than he, leave their cars,
and he strolls the rest of the way to hear Manfred,
or Ozymandias, or To Autumn
of a morning, he would be with Irene
on the other side of the tall mountains,
they could eat this food, drink this water, love
like they did when they found a way to love
children reaching youth and taking over
to be their own sky . . . In Blake’s Marriage of Heaven
and Hell, if a man would persist in his folly

he would become wise. Not like the Ancient
Mariner, whose albatross was unlike a gull,
it was too far from land not to take lives,
and if you climb to Tintern Abbey, go above
far enough where the mist becomes a floor,
you dare not step out to test your balance.
Here you are, in God’s Hands, she is the same woman
but happy now through no fault of his own,
and he rises before the light of dawn
gives way to day and wonders where he will go now
that he knows nothing more than the gulls could have known
but folly was never habit with him, only
the sweat of his brow and the bounty of her days,
the remarkable will she never lost,
even long after he gave himself up
and do what she may she brought him to her to live,
she said, not to live the other side of folly’s
romance with the living dead he found on the streets
he would never know now and what he did not know
then was a city resembled a man
or woman’s body when love took over romance
and cleared the path, no more climbing, one’s food
would be here when hungry, water for thirst,
and each day now waiting for the light to break through
the page after the cursor pulsing reached its end.

(5 January 2010)

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