At the mention of Gerard Manley Hopkins, my mild-mannered father
— tender, abstracted — would exercise the right
to revert to type. That is to say: devout; that is, proscriptive. He would rather
we did not so bandy the good Jesuit’s name about
in talk of “gay this” and “gay that” — just as he would rather
my sister did not, from the library, request “sick” Lolita.
Like tars on a stage deck, yo ho, we roll our eyes.
Somebody snaps on the poisonous gas-fired heater
— and I put off a year or two the hypothesis
I’ll form, with a wave, to provoke him to these wobblers
that all in such matters swing from pole to pole;
as Hopkins was wont (his muse being bi[nsey] po[p]lar[s])
to swing from joy’s heights, alas, to the abyss
and for whom the mind had “mountains; cliffs of fall.”
“O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there.... ” Who’s not known the hell
that fashions itself from the third night without sleep —
the third or the fourth — in whose black margins crawl
shrill horrors, and where breathless, poleaxed, pinned
— as though in the teeth of an outrageous gale —
the mind — sick — preys upon the stricken mind.
And “worst, there is none” — no none — than this wild grief:
Citalopram-wired. Our sweating selves self-cursed.
Oh, “Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?”
as Hopkins wrote — but, far gone, at its worst
it’s her first form I want. Please stroke my hair.
It’s alright now. I’m here, I’m here. There, there.