A poem by John Koethe

James Schuyler by Gerard Malanga.

The Whole Creation

for Harold Bloom

I still believe in it, though I don’t know who else does.
I first experienced it in the building I have an office in now
And called it poetry, but the word was just a placeholder
For something undefined, though that’s too simple a way to put it.
You aspire to what you admire, whether you understand it
Or not, and now that I’ve retired into it, I want to remain here
In my home away from home, roaming without sadness
Through the whole creation, through the long song of myself.
Some days I wake up in a room suffused with sunlight
“Like a yellow jelly bean,” as Jimmy Schuyler put it
In his great poem “Hymn to Life,” but it’s not that kind of day.
There was a blizzard overnight, and everything’s shut down,
Including my seminar, and so instead of ruminating on that poem
I’m fooling around with this one, and looking out the window at the snow.
What is poetry anyway? It falls like snow, and settles where it falls,
And melts. I thought I was going to wake up in another world,
And so I have, but it’s the one where I began. The sunlight
Just came back, as what begins in gladness and uncertainty matures
Into a kind of baffled happiness, unfinished and complete.
I have the sense of something constantly receding, the way
The future does, then suddenly returning, like the past.
It’s all so confusing, and yet it doesn’t bother me —
Everything evaporates, but some of it eventually comes back
In the uncertain form it assumed in the first place —
A remnant still intact and seemingly as distant from me
As the books in the library I keep remembering and looking up,
And as close as them too. But I loved it, whatever it was.