Into the Mouth of the Dying Day

At the hospital
Like a character in one of his poems
I stand at the half wall of a parking garage
Looking west into the sunset.
Death is a blue cold front moving in fast and dark.

I remember the first book he let me borrow.
I remember turning back the paper cover to begin reading.
And inscribed on the half title
"Gilmore you psychotic bastard
you better return this!"

And in Leningrad when she died
There followed in funeral procession
Younger poets who had absorbed her verses like oxygen
Who had been imprisoned because they circled within her orbit
Ahkmatova's orphans.

Although it is not Auden standing at Yeat's grave
And it is not Brodsky head bowed at Auden's grave
There is yet another
Empty space where once a poet stood.

Alfred North Whitehead said
A writer writes for an audience of about ten people.
If others like it, that is clear gain
But if those ten are satisfied
There is contentment.

Ten times tenfold times tenfold yet again.
Yes, there is contentment.
There is clear gain for the community.

What is left is an army of the solitary
With coffee mugs and cigarettes
Huffstickler's orphans
Stretched across the landscape
Like a thousand metaphors on canvas.

And if you look closely
You'll note the canvas is not entirely filled
There, through the glazed plate glass of a diner window
Against a wall is an empty place
Where once a poet
With empathy and compassion
Observed us all.

Austin, Texas, 02-25-02

FIRE 21, p 24; Michael Gilmore