first, I tell you who I am:
shadowed, reflective, small,
pool in an unknown glade.
It is easy to be a poet,
brim with transparent water.
In autumn, the leaves blow down
over the ruffled surface,
sink to rest, then resume their cycle.
In the second stanza, you laugh,
skipping pebbles across my surface
charmed by the spreading circles.
In the trees’ perpetual twilight
you are alone with the poet.
Gently, you shake your head.
You know me as turbulent ocean
clouded with thunder and drama.
In the third stanza, I die.
Still, I insist on composing
as my throes go on and on.
I clench the pen in my teeth
making those furious scratches
that you will see, much later,
as graceful calligraphy:
drift of sails that sketch my horizon.
My hands, in the fourth stanza,
with the agonized clutch of the dying,
draw your hand beneath the covers.
I beg you to travel my body
till you find the forest glade.
Then your hand, like a leaf in autumn,
is pulled into the pool.
The rest of you doesn’t believe it.
The fifth stanza begins
with water, and quiet laughter.
Then I die. I really die.
You pick up this piece of paper
You read it aloud and explain me,
my profile cast in prose.
It drops from your hand like a leaf.
This is all part of the cycle.
Then, in the final stanza,
I tell you who I am.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1984
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.