Government Standing next to my old friend I sense that his soldiers have retreated. And mine? They’re resting their guns on their shoulders talking quietly. I’m hungry, one says. Cheeseburger, says another, and they all decide to go and find some dinner. But the next day, negotiating the too narrow aisles of The Health and Harmony Food Store—when I say, Excuse me, to the woman and her cart of organic chicken and green grapes she pulls the cart not quite far back enough for me to pass, and a small mob in me begins picking up the fruit to throw. So many kingdoms, and in each kingdom, so many people: the disinherited son, the corrupt counselor, the courtesan, the fool. And so many gods—arguing among themselves, over toast, through the lunch salad and on into the long hours of the mild spring afternoon—I’m the god. No, I’m the god. No, I’m the god. I can hardly hear myself over their muttering. How can I discipline my army? They’re exhausted and want more money. How can I disarm when my enemy seems so intent?
Part of Eve’s DiscussionIt was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to stilland stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as whena hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to youyour car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, likethe moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say,it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, onlyall the time.
I remember a man, a very lonely man, coming up to me at the end of a reading and looking into my face and saying, 'I feel as if I have looked down a corridor and seen into your soul.' And I looked at him and said, 'You haven't.' You know, Here's the good news and the bad news: you haven't! I made something, and you and I could look at it together, but it's not me; you don’t live with me; you're not intimate with me. You're not the man I live with or my friend. You will never know me in that way. I'm making something, like Joseph Cornell makes his boxes and everyone looks into them, but it's the box you look into; it's not the man or the woman. It's alchemy of language and memory and imagination and time and music and sounds that gets made, and that's different from 'Here is what happened to me when I was ten.
WHAT THE LIVING DO Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled upwaiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours throughthe open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along thosewobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We wantwhoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deepfor my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:I am living. I remember you.