is all you need to get back in. Strike any bargain He likes — your immortal soul is no use like this anyway. But stake you to one good new poem, and before the night is out, you’ll be back here with sonnets, sestinas, ballads, pan- toums, armies of heroic lines that will win back anything. You can do it, with one — Nothing. Nothing. This is winter, that light pressed under glass, that preserved memory of light, your heart as still and small as the tiny winter day, as the days that stand still. You’ll buy a gun! Hold up Sharon Olds or Christopher What’s-His-Name: Give me that poem you don’t need it. Or children! Children have poems coming out of their ears. You’ll take an entire 3rd grade hostage, make them do those dream exercises; scoop up buckets of images they’ll never miss, the little bastards. Oh God, these are children’s poems and Sharon’s voice, and what’s-his-name’s name, and here you are with Nothing. Nothing. You want it so bad you can taste it. Ah, no — if you could taste it! But nothing. Nothing. All you need is — all right, if not the poem, then this day to breathe, oh, you could get not the whole words, but, say the vowels, the tone- chiming, if the damned light weren’t in a vise, if the night that’s come so early and stayed so late would let up — No. OK. OK, then try. Try harder. Scratch out half a stanza, stick with it. But the stoic measures stack up, a concrete scale of false steps, each phrase an abrasion; and a sudden spill of color, thrill of vision, simply seeps away, just a big, leaky stain inside your eyes, your own, thin blood on the loose.
Part Two — Loose! Yes, out of the leaden echo then, the golden. This resonance can’t be accidental (Did you know Hopkins, that one, was Liz and Richard’s favorite, didn’t you always imagine them saying it to each other in bed, in silk, drunk with poetry and their own accents, didn’t it make it hard to understand what went wrong for them?) when there could be all this life, this color, this heart finally in the still unforcing, in the slight slide of light deeper across one day, still winter but February’s sleight of hand with the seasons, how could you doubt (But you didn’t imagine the newsreels on the tarmac, Liz alone, fat again, waving off reporters, cut to Richard flicking off a cigarette as he too hurries to an airport door, the black and white proof that luxury of words, and of loving words, wasn’t, isn’t, enough) that resonance, echoes might come from ground still cold, or cold again. Or you might imagine them. Didn’t you always imagine?