Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Hell He Travels (2)


Where he is takes all but a little of the western part of the map.
Where he was is at the top, and between lies where she will go.
His car is parked next to a three-story house devoted to mother,
husband, and children–first floor, second and third, respectively.
Her children she counts on all the fingers of one hand. They romp
up and down the stairs and disturb the man who's not their father,
who works all day sealed off from everything in the house but joy,
sorrow, and all the colors blurred with a brush full of water.
Faux Faust misses driving a car, rents one, drives it night and day.
There is his Mephistopheles and Nancy, his faithful wife.
She cleans his wounds. She leads him where he cannot go
without her help in the plaster cast he has worn through panic
when the motorcycle failed his balance careening off the road,
accident that has marred his courage in small but corrosive ways.

He tells George the truth, that he wants to know everything now
his dream slides between his ears, memory like salt being mined.
George says he will take the main watch, but nothing else,
it’s all a creature with one good leg can do, and he must please
the ardor of his wife, whereupon Nancy cuddles in his lap.
Why don’t you buy a bike? George asks him. I have no money
to throw away on pleasure, he replies: I have work to do,
rainbows and ashes, a chorus of groans mistaken for love,
the body’s mutiny once the ship has sailed and all go hungry,
and most of all I want to know these forbidden things . . .
the value of the Maria Theresa coin; the history of bloody walls
whitewashed in the missions; how to cheat death to go on living.
Nancy interrupts: George, come to bed. She steadies his elbow
with both hands. His eyebrows grow solid with their horny dew.

(to be resumed)

(II: 5 December 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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