A poem makes a small room in the front of the brain,
a thin, clean bundle of reasons against which
it lays its sermon like an offering of flowers.
I am moved and stopped by this syllogism, its bottomlessness.
In this case, the room is fashioned to seem like a streetcar.
Two passengers: Voltairine and me.
We don't say much. It is instead
this strange business of listening: for a cue,
an inward signal maybe, maybe a gun shot in the air.
Whichever it is, remember
we accused it of nothing. We paid it
no attention at all, and went on fashioning
the streetcar into a dining hall. One table:
Voltairine's and mine. Out of the kitchen swing door,
plates of king crab legs arrive on elaborate trays
carried by invisible women. We are used to this,
as Voltairine is by now used to my making use of her
for the sake of this poem. Look: she smiles,
cracking the crab legs, endlessly bending a rigid thumb
to hook out the lumps of meat.
It is a matter of convenience that this becomes
an act of oppression. I have her
under my thumb, and with little
to no apology. (Is this a marriage, then?
Is the lesson that having is, in action, always taking?)
At the candlelit table in the dining hall of this poem,
Voltairine fashions a series of hoops from the crab legs,
and I do for you whatever I've done.
In the theatrical release of this poem, the Earth
is projected on a nearby screen. It is spinning,
and is accompanied by the sound this makes in movies:
someone quietly pushing a very heavy stone across a stone floor.
And then the sun, daring and nearly mute,
a flame in a lantern, blackening.
This is to say Voltairine and I will be here,
in this room, for quite some time.
As if to say that again and again we unimagine ourselves
and then reanimate to fashion hoops from crab legs
and jump. Voltairine, I once bent an ear
to the pine forests of the North you mention.
They were tall and uncommunicating.
I don't think they liked me much.