|Detail from vase at the British Museum|
Iowa City, chilled Sangre del Toro
poured out in glasses at your table,
and by the wine your toy animal zoo?
Will I forget the blue stick-figure man,
the watercolor of him amidships
on a bowl-shaped boat on a squiggled sea?
It decorated your refrigerator.
You said, "I painted that. It's Odysseus
when he passed the Sirens. All the crewmen
stopped their ears with wax, but he lashed himself
to the mast and listened to their singing.
I wonder what he heard?"
Now, poet, you
have gone. Forgive me for dreaming
your crossing of Styx, your finger pressed
once to set your glasses, then looking
at fields of asphodel and a party
of Hell's more blessed dead come to greet you,
the thin smiles, the soft pats on your shoulder.
I don't even know what they drink down there,
unless the animal blood Odysseus
offered the shades who grasped at him. No.
All I can imagine is what I can't forget:
your blue strokes on the butcher paper.
And if there are songs on the other side,
and they are the lyrics of your world now,
let me be one of the crudely-made men
who must look up to the mast in wonder,
be a deaf sailor in your painting,
you who hears as we keep rowing.