William Matthews

Here we have a good poet.


for Stanley Plumly

It’s about to be too late.
Every shred of the usual weather
is precious and sexual as it goes,
the way the links of a fugue become
one another’s strict abandonments.

As for the future, it will not swerve.
Fire sleeps in the tree. Which tree?
Fire sleeps without dreaming and cannot
say. If we call the future’s name
it becomes our name, by echo.

And from the dead, not even
a plea that we leave them
alone, each dead locked
in its dead name. If the dead complained,
they would say we summon them poorly,

dull music and thin wine, nor love
enough for the many we make,
much less for the melted dead
in their boxes. Above them
we talk big, since the place is vast

and bland if we tire of looking closely,
washed bland by light from what light
let us see, our study,
the scripture of matter,
our long narcosis of parting.



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