After Ten Years
Now that the sum of footsteps given you
to walk upon the earth has been fulfilled,
I say that you have died. I too have died.
I, who recall the very night we made
our laughing, unaware farewells, I wonder
what on earth has become of those two young men
who sometime around 1957
would walk for hours, oblivious of the snow
that slashed around those street corners like
under the lamps of that midwestern town,
or sit in bars, talking about the women,
or decades later, stroll the perfumed streets
of Pasadena, talking about the meters.
Brother in the felicities of the Herberts,
George and Zbigniew, and of Chivas Regal,
and the warm rooms of the pentameter,
discoverer, as we all were in those days,
of that timeworn utensil, metaphor,
Henri, my tipsy, diffident old friend,
if only you were here to share with me
this empty dusk, however impossibly,
and help me to improve these lines of verse.
Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
Arkansas Press, ©
2000. Reprinted by permission
of the author.