If I were to refuse and allow
Vanity or flippancy
To hang her image
Among the blurred collection
Of Friday night pictures that could be dreams
“Would you write a poem for me?
No one ever wrote a poem for me.”
Would chase me into hell’s loneliest pit
And echo rightfully within its walls,
Would bind me to the earth
When joy would have me soar,
Would mark my soul with a sin
Of which hers is clear.
For I would be denying the pain
That I know has conceived this request,
Contradicting man’s myths:
The Father who hurled His Son from Heaven,
Mary at the Convict’s cross,
And the Titan who bore concealed fire
For the love of humanity.
For I would be refusing a mother’s wish
For life for this unworthy child.
Sympathy is too cheap.
A flick of the wrist at , six, and eleven
Can guarantee its growth within our guts.
This with callous logic
And social distance
Could sterilize even a poet’s heart
Whose knowledge of birth can never be genuine
Whose voice cannot reach the same heights.
I must attempt, however,
To make real the cheapened feeling
And so, as far as I’m allowed,
I imitate her
Bearing her wish ‘til the hour of its fruition
When I tear it from my spirit
And hand it over.
Written in the Spring, 1985. (Original title, “To Jenny.” Renamed Fall 1985.)