31 March 2009

David Ignatow

[from David Ignatow's Shadowing the Ground, Wesleyan, 1991]


We are an aging couple
in a house surrounded
by silence, left
to ourselves to do with
our lives as we wish
in the security of our persons,
to act as we had wanted to
since youth -- freely
and spontaneously
towards one another,
given our lives'
long wish in old age,
lying in separate beds
in separate rooms.


I don't know which to mourn. Both have died on me, my wife and my car. I feel strongly about my car, but I am also affected by my wife. Without my car, I can't leave the house to keep myself from being alone. My wife gave me two children, both of whom, of course, no longer live with us, as was to be expected, as we in our youth left our parents behind. With my car, I could visit my children, when they are not too busy.

Before she died, my wife urged me to find another woman. It's advice I'd like to take up but not without a car. Without a car, I cannot find myself another woman. That's the sum of it.


Now I feel so far from you,
like an animal leaving its kill
to slink back into the woods.
I'll be gone in an instant,
sad, the work done, the soul
in need again of bright feathers
unstained by blood,
taming the sun
with their beauty.

I saw you die in me
the necessary death
of separation. We
became ourselves,
parted from one another,
and off I go now
back to beginnings
in the mess of leaves
and silences
when the leaves darken the day
and in closed fear
I worship an idol,
the self.


1 comment:

  1. Tracy Larrabee16:07

    I read all three poems, so I know for sure that he means for poem 42 to sound lonely, wistful, lethargic, and regretful. But me, I can read those words and take in defiance and celebration.

    A couple, together, acting in independent, intersecting spheres is not a bad thing just because they sometimes, or all-times, sleep in different beds.

    He said many things, and clearly his message is not my message, but art is like that, and my strongest reaction is to poem 42, and it is to what I hear and not what he said.