Thursday, November 16, 2006

For James

Having read Baldwin today for the first time,
I know how the Pilgrims must have felt--
or was it the Dutch, or the Spanish, or the Vikings--
storming up onto the edge of what had already existed
in the world long before your sudden,
and perhaps tardy, arrival.
That there could be so much beauty
hidden from you for so long.
With the Native Americans--the longtime fans of
James--staring at you from the forest edge, saying:
"Yeah, pretty fuckin' brilliant, huh?"

Which only multiplies the distance between Ahab
and myself. I can't understand how you can
live in the shadow of something so huge,
someone so great, and only to want to kill it.

Instead, I will devour each paragraph, digesting until
it becomes part of me, feeding me,
growing in my belly like lichen on the walls
of a tomb, which Baldwin cracked open so the sun could
light the insides.

It is the same thing if you look close enough.
The killing, the eating: transformation.
The kind of words which dissolve
a man like me into poetry.

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