Wallace Stevens walks abroad on a foggy-mild first night of December, passing as an unseen shadow by my window from which I often view the public library, and has nothing further to do with this poem
That one had a little skull to speak of.
Magnolia trees’ fail to announce themselves but demand to be seen. As if once they were simple flowers for the dead, rootless like a funeral flower left by a stone, but time turned it into a tree with the unexpected smoothness and texture and the character of a stone, and the smell of lemons reminded us of all whom we miss and who miss us but are by us forgotten. A shadow reminded me of this
While I walked with a scary god in the dark.
It’s not debt I fear but desertion. That there’s no scary god beside me that I pick up and carry when things get difficult.
I pulled off last month’s skin and saw that I am already that memory you have of me, it said to me under a streetlight. I said something like a thought has to be light or it can’t fly and we left it at that.
The baby’s skull mends itself from the moment it’s born, like it knows what’s coming. The magnolia’s petals, like softened plates of bone abandoned by a weak seam.
I knew if I said anything like “seem” that you’d think I was writing about Stevens. And now he’s part of this poem for you, even as the poem is coming together like the plates of a skull to keep Wallace Stevens out of its mind.
This is what I knew about the South. I drove across an empty parking lot in the Florence of South Carolina. Inside the coliseum, the hockey players swarmed in a pre-game drill.
By the time I turned around my scary god was trying to bury me among the abandoned boats of fallen magnolia leaves. His eye sockets were the shells of boiled peanuts and his mouth was a stately house left by its family as the burning army came closer.