["The heat of spring has driven me into my hands for coolness"]
The heat of spring has driven me into my hands for coolness,
looking deep past the finger lines at ice beneath the skin,
as if I could not even stand the fever of the days
auguring love for anyone beneath the lilacs.
Why can’t I camp my speech into all sorts of forest fires,
why is it ice on the lakes I want to give to anyone of understanding?
The why why why out of the carved figures
put up unnoticed at the back porch long ago,
all the unconscious decisions toward the reason of exactitude,
the great fertility of intelligence, looking for the secrecy of maturity
in vaults of knowledge —
and now I count gravel in the driveway
looking for a smidgen of emotion, laughter for feelings,
the live and not the dead.
And yet I know just as well
there is no blood here, even to cut myself —
laddering cold water, that’s all, here in the shadow
of those damned figures.
The rotten backyard will not serve up
any brimming sky — and still I sit on the back steps
gathering up what axe handles there are …
to add heft to decay, but it’s no good, no good.
I know I lived on bright hills once, I tell it
constantly, I wish the world in sunblind colors again,
I hate intelligence sitting on the floor telling
seriousness for the party, from sterility, from this gin and tonic …
and I have only stomped down the July hills to this corner,
long footsteps into utter sickness till now
I want to vomit the whole mind away.
Regret regret regret up and down
the driveway, wanting blind ignorance
to flow out from between the marigolds, to see only
the tomato plants I played in fifteen years ago ….
I understand things too well.
This hot spring offers me the warmth
of all existence, but I cannot feel at all.
I know the sweating loves beneath the trees
like logic, logic lying in my cold tin pans.
13 May 1959 [Cambridge, Massachusetts]