Loss as Repeated Lesson; or, Call & Response
The gas-station sign grows brighter than sun
And so we know it’s night. We study night;
We cannot lie. Dark conceals and won’t explain
The bulb above the book glows implicate
In paper dressed in white. One grows weary
Of saying “I.” I read the book. So the day
Grows legible. There are no riddles. The starry
Spheres work their influence to guide astray
Our small hopes. Mind-governed strife. Call & . . .
You, your absence. These coins that were his eyes
When the book was shelved. The ferryman’s hand
Collects his toll. Currency exchange. I
Read apple, play, appease, please on one face.
“Inscribe the blank” (etched opposite) “to define place.”
¥ ¥ ¥
A pip marks page marks seed in apple-white;
Fold the page into a coin and put it in the slot
And down the chute the apple comes—almost
Tasteless. Very faintly, one tastes the sun.
I taste the sun. It tastes like the eye-chart
In the Doctor’s office where I couldn’t—
Without eyes—focus on the letter E
Writ so stupidly large. What is the least line
You can read? If I squint, I can see
the sun glow bright against the dark screen.
They hollowed out the book so the sextant
Fit inside. They didn’t tease me about being blind.
They said the oarsman gentled the water with quiet
Thoughts quoted from this empty book’s last line.
Dan Beachy-Quick’s book of interlinked meditations on Moby-Dick, A Whaler’s Dictionary, will be published by Milkweed Editions in September 2008. His fourth book of poems, This Nest, Swift Passerine, will be published by Tupelo Press in spring 2009. He teaches at Colorado State University.