Holiness, that ancient haberdasher, is old hat.
We have had quite enough of the ritual doff
and even the shaved head beneath. Remove
them both. Yarmulkes make good shoulder pads,
or, if ironed, coasters. Faithful heads are another
matter--best recycled, one should think.
Emptied of illusion, a hallow-hollow head
blows the most soothing, lovely single note,
a pure earthy hymn to what there isn't,
and a welcoming anthem to fire, water, air.
So, love, our old headgear is ancient history,
that wordy, lifeless faith to one another
of scriptural misery. We have begun again in this,
diurnal, finite. It is only brains that can hold a kiss.
Amphibolous necrophile, one could
and a pest to your romantic rooted trunk
rotting in the fetid clay of Pulaski.
They don't know you and never did. Oxford
to them was, and is, footwear, or exhausting
the complete store, a Mississippi better off
with Faulkner and Evers quite equally dead.
Not that you strayed so far, either beyond
Nashville or the fugitive clan of tête-à-Tate.
But death at least to you was more delicious
than a gloried rivalry laid at state. The irony is
that in your old home town you have
never lived to die. Mentioned there, they screw
their jaws awry, and coo a foolish "Who?"
(Robert Hieb 1953-1992)
"Hhhwhyte," you slanged in that NoDak phenotype
"Pull yer head owut!"--the "ass" left begging--
the first of a good thousand mirrors, all cast
of the same clear guttural and held in that
barb'rish angle so, yes, I at last could see the cut.
"Narcissus to my Goldmund"--you thought that
so small and dark a quip. But here, a generation past,
held fast where light cannot enter (though now
very likely reversed), it still shines on all
those verbally polished planes you left me,
so now, Occam stylist I've become,
I can scissor for myself.
Fallen from life, like hair in midlife rout,
my Narziss: I am Goldmund within, without.
Copyright © 1997 Mississippi Review