for Robert Siegel
The book’s pine musk, just as she’s sleeping,
arouses her. So life gets started,
the pebble wheedling down a ski slope
with snow heavy on the cliffs.
In December, pacing the baroque lobby shuffling
with dresses of the Nutcracker, to the distant fireworks
of champagne opening, at intermission, I dialed your number
about a reference for an application. Death in the click of the daughter’s
lips parting, in the chiffon rustle of background weeping
at my fool’s question, in the wrought-iron sitting-room stovetop,
mexican tile, the window seat she sits on where, as he wrote, a pentecost of finches
visited daily just past the glass, before dawn swelled over the firs.
Robert, that week I thought you still lived
was the last fleck of the comet,
your deer disappearing like sated lust
past trunks straight as columns of print, where autumn moss
still throbbed sudden, green,
straight as lines of the poems I pick up again
as she settles, with sweat on her chests’ concave,
between deep covers and sleeps.