I am looking at a smallpox vaccination scar
In a war movie on the arm
Of a young actor. He has just swum
Across a river somewhere in Normandy
Into the waiting arms of his rejoicing comrades.
Of course, the river’s in California,
And the actor is dead now. Nevertheless,
This is the first of many hotels this trip,
And I find myself preferring wars
To smut on the networks,
Even as I find myself reading
The Pisan Cantos for the umpteenth time
Instead of the novel in my bag.
The poet helps me to the question:
Does anything remain of home at home?
Next day is no way of knowing,
And the day after is my favorite,
A small museum really perfect
And a good meal in the middle of it.
As I’m leaving,
I notice a donkey on a vase
Biting the arm of a young girl,
And outside on the steps
A silver fish head glistens beside a bottlecap.
The work of poetry is trust,
And under the aegis of trust
Nothing could be more effortless.
Hotels show movies.
Walking around even tired
I find my eyes find
Numberless good things
And my ears hear plenty of words
Offered for nothing over the traffic noise
As sharp as sparrows.
A day and a day, more rivers crossing me.
It really feels that way, I mean
I have changed places with geography,
And rivers and towns pass over me,
Showing their scars, finding their friends.
I like it best when poetry
Gleams or shows its teeth to a girl
Forever at just the right moment.
I think I could turn and live underneath the animals.
I could be a bottlecap.
Going to the airport going home,
I stop with my teacher, now my friend.
He buys me a good breakfast, berries and hotcakes.
We finish and, standing, I hear
One policeman saying to another
Over the newspaper in a yellow booth
"Do you know this word regret, Eddie?
What does it mean?"
Plenty of words over the traffic noise,
And nothing could be more effortless.
Catching a glimpse of eternity, even a poor one, says it all.