I will always think of you,
Sitting again at the corner
table in the Café Figaro where MacDougal Street meets
windy Bleeker, just exactly where
winter gets mitered into spring…
That edge place, where the pigeons coo wait with me, wait with me slowly, and the raw wind blows, and the flowered curtain billows out intimacy, with “all/the invisible gestures behind…” and you at the café window, writing and writing.
Dear ‘Annah, I found these lines by Helene Cixous that I wanted to share with you. She says: Writing is learning to die. It’s learning not to be afraid, to live at the extremity of life, which is what the dead, death, give us. It feels a kind of permission. A strange unasked-for gift. No one wants this, but now, your book trembles a little, filled with your voice, with your wonder and sadness, your questions.
Wait with me for what?
—as if the meaning
of afternoon light in April is now
rain with evaporation, spring with its wobbly ankles, its
fireworks—Spring with its ominous-shaped trowel—
Dear ‘Annah, your poems live at that extremity, luminous. Lonely. Full of risk.
I feel scared and small again in the City of
young cat whimpering in her basket. Where are my
If some of us are still here, still learning how to die, learning to be less afraid, we have your poems, so full of surprise, and beauty, and light. And look how they talk
—even the grayness
of the April street beneath the exhaust feels
to her like lemon chiffon on top of all the shoulders of all the people passing
by her in a direction
of yellow-light-sun sound glazed with air—
I see you there at the café, writing still. Unafraid.
measurably, my body’s been taking up less and less of the air.
Yes, but… dear ‘Annah, if you were learning to die, even if we didn’t quite know, what we felt, what we still feel, is your courage and your love and the wild joy, of you, gentle, always moving toward beauty. Still.
When the flame and yellow tulips
begin dying in the air on top
of the coffee table, I move across the room to kiss
their insides. They’re completely
opened today bending over
their own shoulders, the rim
of my grandmother’s cut glass vase,
and I’m thinking a thing becomes its death—
that beauty goes past
itself into its finishing with such force
it seems to come from nowhere straining
The Tulip Sacrament Wesleyan University Press 1995