Willie the Shake. Jinny Lobo. Give names away like cups of water to the thirsty,
bread held out with una copa de mal, Vallejo’s drink, absorption of the ordinary,
rusting tools Neruda admired . . . William Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf,
who needs more to plant in the garden of a future that will never come true?
Go to old Homer and ask his gods and goddesses to fly to the front, to islands
where Odysseus moors and finds landfall and evades the Cyclops, resists Circe’s
entanglements, and after Achilles tells him his secret, lures Penelope’s suitors
into the great hall spattered and flowing with their blood, then goes to her bed.
Shakespeare and the voice that clucks and roars, no closet drama but beginning
in media res as do all dramas we look back upon to unriddle the lock with a key
we carry around forever, unaware, and not until near the end do we know a lock
is a day, a lady, a sea, a lighthouse, a woman walking with a stone into the river.
Such are facts. Keep counsel with them and die before the body pitches forward.
The invisible wounds were Homer’s secrets, those kept by the beings of the air.
I remember rereading Tolstoy of late, for months on end, and he knew nothing
yet but what life was. How many years ago I read Hamlet and Dostoevky’s
Demons became my own.
And what of Shakespeare’s sister? What’d she write
in that room of her own, the one she never occupied without great misgivings,
how Leonard would manage without her, what Mrs. Dalloway was wearing
the day she entered the streets with invitations on her lips, the dead, the living
Ramsays who would never leave the sea now that the light swept over them.
What if you had grown only peonies? Would you have stayed in that garden
or would you have come this way long before now, loba seeking lobo, you can
call them what you want, they have nothing more crucial to do than put roots
down where the water rises and something is born that is no longer unnamed.
for Maria Teresa again
(4 January 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander