I think I like this room.
The curtains and the furniture aren’t the same
Of course, but the light comes in the window as it used to
Late in the morning, after the others had gone to work.
You can even shave in it. On the dresser with the mirror
Are a couple of the pictures we took one afternoon
Last May, walking down the alley in the late sunlight.
I remember now how we held hands for fifteen minutes
Afterwards. The words meander through the mirror
But I don’t want them now, I don’t want these abbreviations.
What I want in poetry is a kind of abstract photography
Of the nerves, but what I like in photography
Is the poetry of literal pictures of the neighborhood.
The late afternoon sunlight is slanting through the window
Again, sketching the room in vague gestures of discontent
That roll off the mind, and then only seem to disappear.
What am I going to do now? And how am I going to sleep tonight?
A peculiar name flickers in the mirror, and then disappears.
John Koethe, “Picture of Little Letters” from North Point North: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by John Koethe. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Source: North Point North: New and Selected Poems
(HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2002)