Friday, October 11, 2019

Another August by James Merrill

Another August

Pines. The white, ochre-pocked houses. Sky unflawed. Upon so much former strangeness a calm settles, glaze of custom to be neither shattered nor shattered by. Home. Home at last.

Years past—blind, tattering
wind, hail, tears—my head was in those clouds
that now are dark pearl in my head.

Open the shutters. Let variation
abandon the swallows one by one.
How many summer dusks were needed
to make that single skimming form!
The briefest firefly kindles to its type.
Here is each evening’s lesson. First
the hour, the setting. Only then
the human being, his clean shirtsleeve, anyone’s
chalked among treetrunks, round a waist,
or lifted in an entrance. Watch for him.
Be him.

Envoi for S.

Whom you saw mannerless and dull of heart,
Easy to fool, impossible to hurt,
I wore that fiction like a fine white shirt
And asked no favor but to act the part.

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