Dio ed Io

By Charles Wright b. 1935 Charles Wright
There is a heaviness between us,   
Nameless, raised from the void, that counts out the sprung hours.   
What ash has it come to purify?   
What disappearance, like water, does it lift up to the clouds?   

God of my fathers, but not of mine,   
You are a part, it is said, an afterthought, a scattered one.   
There is a disappearance between us as heavy as dirt.   
What figure of earth and clay would it have me become?   

Sunday again, January thaw back big time.   
The knock-kneed, overweight boys and girls   
Sit on the sun-warmed concrete sidewalk outside the pharmacy   
Smoking their dun-filtered cigarettes.   

Nothing is bothering them—and their nicotine dreams—   
This afternoon. Everything's weightless,   
As insubstantial as smoke.   
Nothing is disappearing in their world. Arrival is all.   

There is a picture of Yves Klein leaping out of a window   
Above a cobblestone Paris street.   
A man on a bicycle peddles away toward the distance.   
One of them's you, the other is me.   

Cut out of the doctored photograph, however, the mesh net   
Right under the swan-diving body.   
Cut out of another print, the black-capped, ever-distancing cyclist, as well as the mesh net.   
Hmm . . . And there you have it, two-fingered sleight-of-hand man.   

One loses one's center in the air, trying to stay afloat,   
Doesn't one? Snowfalling metaphors.   
Unbidden tears, the off-size of small apples. Unshed.   
And unshedable.   

Such heaviness. The world has come and lies between us.   
Such distance. Ungraspable.   
Ash and its disappearance—   
Unbearable absence of being,   
                                           Tonto, then taken back.

Source: Poetry (January 2003).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2003
 Charles  Wright

Biography

Charles Wright is often ranked as one of the best American poets of his generation. Born in 1935 in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, Wright attended Davidson College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; he also served four years in the U.S. Army, and it was while stationed in Italy that Wright began to read and write poetry. His early work, including The Grave of the Right Hand (1970), received positive critical attention, but his reputation . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Living, Faith & Doubt, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Coming of Age, God & the Divine, Photography & Film, The Spiritual

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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