Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (C. D. Wright Tribute—Issue 62, March 2016)

Jane Miller
Swan Hair

Was there a murder nearby, talked about all year,

and less and less by you

as you drove quickly by what others stopped to see?

Were you in love at the time?

Was your mother still alive?

Are you dressed now, therefore in public?

Are you walking home alone?

Is it humid? Does it occur to you

that while grasses blow without anyone

seeing wind, relationships befall you?

Do you want to be aroused by words,

or does that bore you, like porn?

Are you yourself hungry?

Is there a sense that you’re on a floating bed?

Do you think of yourself in an apartment by the sea, when it is winter,

a few neighbors and foghorns, early evening and the mood already gloomy?

Do you remember? Did anyone help you?

Do you compare yourself to a passerby

in a loose white blouse and jeans?

Do others shut down nearer your power?

If I think of you, will I draw another breath?

Was there a melon in high season

or a wall when it snowed?

Didn’t the tray weigh nothing on your body

when your lover woke you with a plate of toasts and ginger,

lingering in the room while you dressed in tights, a slip

and a mustache to be funny?

Did you laugh? Do you remember?

When you made love and smelled of sweat and mint,

did you anticipate your birthday, and the hundreds of people?

Did you wake too early? Did it matter?

Were those slippers, tap shoes, heels, and sneakers

rarely worn because you lay around

in a cloud? Did people like you?

Were you terrible?

Were you available?

Had you money? Were you thrilled?

Did you cleave? How?

Were you valiant? furtive? masculine?

Did you do your dishes? Were you immaculate?

Did you suffer?

Do I know,

if you cried, was it a moment, an hour, or much longer?

Did you never? Do I believe you?

Did you imagine your everyday life

as a frog or victim or swimmer or liar

or a pair of binoculars or a winning ticket?

Is feeling surreal like swan hair?

Was that your city? Were you tired?

Was there shock? Pleasure?

Was there water nearby?

Who cooked all afternoon?

Who bicycled for wine?

Was your intelligence obvious? Were you forgiven?

Did you put a hand in the fire?

Did you drive a car into the lake?

Do you want more of a story

as a gift on a postcard

to a secret admirer, as a token of affection,

as a guard against the fashion, as a volume of trysts,

in a pronouncement of your politics, as a whim,

as a monument to defeat

in a moment when the vanguard upbraids you?

For your time on earth did love

shape you?

Is time passing brutal and natural?

Does it make you think bravely of war,

of the best of civilization in makeshift camps?

Was it a battle of time versus dream,

fought over a dugout of sheets?

Did you account for the dark plastic on the windows?

Did you sleep in your dress?

When did you become old or dead?

Would you behold what is tender and still

when you went in for a kiss

and came out a magnifying glass?

Did you go downstairs to read?

Why weren’t you listening to what was said?

Did the end of life make you sad,

so you couldn’t write or think?

Isn’t it when the strings are taut

you play with complete abandonment?

Does no one hear?