Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ai – More


for James Wright
Last night, I dreamed of America.
It was prom night.
She lay down under the spinning globes
at the makeshift bandstand
in her worn-out dress
and too-high heels,
the gardenia
pinned at her waist
was brown and crumbling into itself
What’s it worth, she cried,
this land of Pilgrims’ pride?
As much as love, I answered. More.
The globes spun.
I never won anything, I said,
I lost time and lovers, years
but you, purple mountains,
you amber waves of grain, belong to me
as much as I do to you.
She sighed,
the band played,
the skin fell away from her bones.
Then the room went black
and I woke.
I want my life back,
the days of too much clarity,
the nights smelling of rage,
but it’s gone.
If I could shift my body
that is too weak now,
I’d lie face down on this hospital bed,
this icy water called Oho River.
I’d float past all the sad towns,
past all the dreamers onshore
with their hands out.
I’d hold on, I’d hold,
till the weight,
till the awful heaviness
tore from me,
sank to bottom and stayed.
Then I’d stand up
like Lazarus
and walk home across the water.

This is getting hard for me. First Lucille Clifton and now Ai. I can’t explain why it’s hard. Just is.
Pickup the National Book Awarded Vice.

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