My hands have grown cold writing lists;
they’ve been out of my pocket too long; my pocket
has grown cold too because my hands are missing and so is O’Hara’s copy
of Reverdy, stolen by the British Museum or a similar legal entity,
so John Ashbery was right.
The memory returns and the garden comes into view:
tomatoes never tasted so good: the red of an investment well spent. Who
understands investment better than a number? A number,
the precondition for intelligence, the precondition of post-history:
A post similar to the ones holding up The chain-link fence. What else
belongs in this list, this stanza offering how I came to write this poem?
Twice I fell. Twice I fell. Once more than man,
sun-kissed and cursed, like an apple or any other fruit (a tomato?).
The lists come easy; they always have provided
you don’t try to remember. That’s the same as telling yourself to be calm.
But twice I fell because I decided to stay
on the packed snow path. The path now icy
meaning I could have walked on top of the snow.
It all makes sense now: we can walk on water
if we’re clever, but should we give up significance so easily?
But is such a wonderful word in poetry, my professor said;
that’s what Baudelaire’s ‘To a passerby’ means to me.
The but of the last stanza is already gone, already changed;
with this stanza, I intend to ruin any beauty it may have had:
significance given up easily. The meaning
already changed, not immutable, it’s not art.
The truth is gone. Dead. There was a war,
the tomatoes ripened, and the troops were fed.
They marched through the snow;
their luggage was too heavy to permit walking on water,
and so the beauty of war was over for them,
but the metaphor continues.