The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Wednesday


Apollo and Hyacinthus
By J.D. McClatchy


Guilt's dirty hands, memory's kitchen sink...
   It's bad faith makes immortal love.
      Take a closer look at Hyacinth.

Dark bud-tight curls and poppy-seed stubble,
   The skin over his cheekbones pale as poison
      Slowly dripped from eye to eye,

And a crotch that whispers its single secret
   Even from behind the waiter's apron.
      He's pouting now, staring at the traffic.

Every year there's a new one at the bar
   Sprung from whatever nowhere -- the country,
      The islands, the middle west...

The old man at the far corner table, decades ago
   Called by his critics 'the sun god
      Of our poetry', sits stirring

A third coffee and an opening line,
   Something like So often you renew
      Yourself
or You and I resemble

Nothing else every other pair of lovers.

   The grease stain on his left sleeve
      Winks as the lights come on.

He signals the boy and means to ask
   Under cover of settling the check
      If, with the usual understanding

And for the same pleasures, he'd return again
   Tonight, after work, there was something
      He'd wanted to show the boy, a picture

Of two sailors that if held upside down...
   It's then he notices the gold cufflinks
      The boy is wearing, the pair the poet's

Friends had given him when his first book --
   That moist sheaf of stifled longings --
      Appeared in Alexandria.

To have stolen from one who would give
   Anything: what better pretext
      To put an end to 'an arrangement'?

The old man falls silent, gets up from his seat,
   Leaves a few coins on the table
      And walks out through his confusions,

Homeward through the sidestreets, across the square,
   Up the fifty-two stone steps, up the years
      And back to his study, its iron cot.

The heaving had stopped. The last sad strokes
   Of the town clock had rung: Anger was one,
      Humiliation the other.

He sat there until dawn and wrote out the poem
   That has come to be in all the anthologies,
      The one you know, beginning

You are my sorrow and my fault. The one that goes
   In all my songs, in my mind, in my mouth,
      The sighing still sounds of you.


The one that ends with the boy -- the common,
   Adored, two-timing hustler -- turned
      Into a flower, the soft-fleshed lily

But of a bruised purple that grief will come
   To scar with its initials AI, AI.
      O, the ache insists.


--------

ribby sent me that poem (the old-fashioned way, via snail mail). Thank you so much, sweetie! And now I need to get that book!

How come it always takes five times as much time to unpack as it does to pack, even if you only packed for two days? Spent much of the morning on laundry and organizational tasks like that. Went out to lunch with gblvr, narrowly avoided spending money in several stores (well, I did buy the 2006 page-a-day Star Trek calendar because I suck have bought it every year for the past at least ten -- how many years have they been publishing them? That long), came home with orange blossom eau de toilette and two Lindt chocolate balls. Ran around driving Hebrew school carpools.

In between I wrote the three articles my site owner had apparently wanted me to do over the weekend, though I told him three times I was going to be out of town. Strangely, he knew I was going to be at Farpoint doing interviews but somehow missed the fact that I would be in Pennsylvania for the next two days, which I am quite sure I mentioned in the same notes. So I am undoubtedly going to have work dumped on me to compensate...ah well, I shall not rush to transcribe the interviews. But as a result of the three articles, I have not answered the pile of mail and comments left over from yesterday. (Am irritable at GMR too -- finished my Match Point review, and they still have my book review held over from a couple of weeks ago and did not rush to finish the Harry Potter essay book review.)

Sasha Cohen really skated nicely but you all know I missed most of the women's short program, because of course I turned the Olympics off to watch Boston Legal. Which made me cry in two different storylines. I am so grateful they finally gave Rene Auberjonois a big story! And he was phenomenal -- very Odo-like in some ways, absolutely intransigent in his definition of justice and fairness until he realizes he'll have to sacrifice love for it (I was so hearing Odo from "Necessary Evil", at least). And then there was the Alzheimer's storyline, with the twist ending that shouldn't have been such a twist; Alan's look of betrayal when he realized what the husband and the nurse had done, not to the wife but to him as the lawyer, was extraordinary, this sudden subtle thing.

He and Denny are heartbreaking together. "I'm tired of my Alzheimer's being a story point," Denny says. Alan says it isn't his story: "Imagine killing someone you love." Denny reminds Alan that he said he'd kill him, and how much do I love that they went from "someone you love" to that? And Alan says he's not sure he could do it. Then without transition, the switch to crack! Denny announces that it's all right if Alan can't kill him, Bev said she'd do it if the day came: she'll sit on him. Alan finds this amusing, and then just as quickly we're back to the heavy stuff: "That's what we did for my father. Morphine drip." Oh. At least we get a happy ending: "My day is coming Alan, we both know that," mourns Denny, to which Alan replies, "It's a long ways off, and in the meantime, live big, my friend, live big."

Which Shirley doesn't quite do, but she's tempted. Tom Selleck as her ex-husband and first law partner! Who cheated on her on their honeymoon, she says, and caused all kinds of havoc in her life, and is now getting married again and wants her to be the best man. "I feel it deep down in my..." "...bone, I'm sure," she finishes for him, and has to point out best man doesn't give the groom away -- and besides, she's not a man. Which he knows oh so well. Of course, he wants her back. Just like Denny wants her back. Who wouldn't want her back! I need Paul to finish mourning for his wife and cement things with his daughter so he can realize he's in love with her...not that I have any objection of Shirley ends up with Denise, who she takes as her DATE to the rehearsal dinner!

Really, I like Shirley and Denise together in the kind of mentor-protegee relationship I always wanted with older women like that, though if I were Denise I would decide no man could measure up to Shirley and give them up. *snerk* For that matter, I can't see how Ivan's fiancee did not dump him for Shirley, except that she would not have sung that godawful song from The Sound of Music in front of an audience, twice! She has the best line of this episode: "The heart wants what the heart wants...so long as his penis doesn't weigh in." Oh, and since the only way to stop her from giggling is to upset her, Shirley brings up Trent Lott, at which the woman grows somber...then asks if Shirley is one of those dreadful people who mocks the Administration. "I would never!" Shirley announces. I love that the show with my favorite slash couple on TV also has women characters I adore and Rene Auberjonois too. Tuesday nights are bliss.


Statue of Abe Lincoln and contemporary passerby outside the Wills House in downtown Gettysburg. Lincoln stayed with David Wills from November 18-19th 1863, met then-Governor Curtin and rode on horseback up what is now the road separating the national battlefield visitor's center from the cemetery to deliver the Gettysburg Address, which he finished writing in this building -- now a Lincoln museum.
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