I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE A MAN
In my hand, with my eyes, I find
my great grandfather on the side edge
of a hardwood chair, up on a hip
with his legs crossed, with his hat
pushed back, with his forehead torn by a fleck like a shot
had rung, but he smiles.
My own face as a child comes to mind
like light displaced on lake water by an oar
in my father's hand. And
I had read the sentence here we have a stone earlobe
absorbing the prayers of an ancient Egyptian
the day the couple came to fix the clock,
a grandfather, taller than. They moved, at work,
like fewer than two animals, more than one flower, his gentle
removal of the face, her hand holding the door away,
their one voice low, asking for tools across which
tools were passed, with the heartbeat stopped, her white gloves on,
his shoulder back inside, his hand so lightly
hitting the notes out of sequence wildly, with my son still
not speaking, not come home for years. Absorb, lobe of stone,
because we are first sensual, and then must be rich.
Between a bird and a leaf sits death. —Yannis Ritsos
She saw with one eye marked for lamentation,
white flower centered by a drain of blue
with gray that rose according as, according to,
like the brindled charms one hopes on, verdure
in order, a flux of barriers within a bush of barriers,
like a house one rents and hopes to weight
with an agile temperament by the arrangement
of low chairs. But always, beyond that,
her other eye was marked for flight
as the curve from thing to thing requires.
Again today I see my neighbor
has not been able to take
his golden dog in
whose legs fail
It was the shoulders. Every
feather hurt. My souvenir?
Joy, swung out over the blades,
swings back, though in time it goes out
a little less far, joy demurred of itself
like down, or amazement felt receding
far below. It was always night for me,
me twinkling like the star we all
learned rhyme upon, love coming
to itself but as a different self,
like flying but not flying,
expensive, too far, though I was
sure I was a diamond in the sky.
Who in the house, as always
Who cried her eyes out, missing her mom?
Who tapped the wrist where the bracelet
had been worn? Who pointed
to the drawing of the man? Who waved,
meaning say hello to your new girlfriend
who drew that, who made my bracelet
that I put away.
The title “I Don't Know How to Make a Man” is a line from section 13 of Roberto Juarroz' gorgeous First Vertical Poetry. The italicized sentence is from an oracle called The Book of Symbols. The poem's last line is Emerson, from Man the Reformer.