Sport 13 Spring 1994
Sometimes events are slow
to seem concluded.
Mist shines damply
where an edge should be,
a promise not yet drizzle.
This afternoon a man
bunched my lapel and raised
his fist to me.
I meet him on a corner
in a light that hints at spangles.
I learn he has AIDS.
And yes, he has the gauntness
of the photographs, the greying hair.
‘I’m thinking,’ he says, ‘of throwing
a going-away party.’
A dozen years ago
I might have known his address.
Coming home I pass
an entrance to apartments
where the elderly keep cats,
a fountain dribbles braids
and fallen blooms rust gravel.
Our summer ends, breaks down mechanically
with minor floods and scrapes in ill-lit carparks.
Brake-lights smear the air.
My blood a soup of cholesterol and tars,
I walk to where the unfamiliar
works like a narcotic on my nerves.
Blitzed roses. Loam. A moistening dusk.
The gelid wobble of a fountain’s jet
troubles the lights infirmity.
The sea and sky are one again in seeming
original, originally mythic,
the same dim wetnesses as Adam loved
before he understood the need for sunlight.
In Australia’s tawny wastes
people build houses, carefully assemble
settings of rock and water,
plant saplings with blue leaves.
And lo the water runs or falls
or otherwise imitates the artificial,
Zabrisky Point, its stilts
and black mirrors. Snakes lately infernal,
slim yellow tubes much dyed and printed upon,
admire the baffling water.
A man like a grocer, damp-jowled
and horn rimmed, dangerous captor and killer
(the man who loved a corpse
because of its passive ways),
speaks of his crimes with deference and tact.
Freud defined mental health
as the ability to love and work.