Text of "Farewell Performance"


                                 For D. K.

 Art. It cures affliction. As lights go down and

Maestro lifts his wand, the unfailing sea change

starts within us. Limber alembics once more

make of the common


Lot a pure, brief gold. At the end our bravos

call them back, sweat-soldered and leotarded,

back, again back - anything not to face the

fact that it’s over.


You are gone. You’d caught like a cold their airy

lust for essence. Now, in the furnace parched to

ten or twelve light handfuls, a mortal gravel

sifted through fingers,


Coarse yet grayly glimmering sublimate of

palace days, Strauss, Sidney, the lover’s plaintive

Can’t we just be friends? which your breakfast phone call

Clothed in amusement,


This is what we paddled a neighbor’s dinghy

out to scatter - Peter who grasped the buoy,

I who held the box underwater, freeing

all it contained. Past


Sunny, fluent soundings that gruel of selfhood

taking manlike shape for one last jete on

ghostly - wait, ah! - point into darkness vanished.

High up, a gull’s wings


Clapped. The house lights (always supposing, caro,

Earth remains your house) at their brightest set the

scene for good: true colors, the sun-warm hand to

cover my wet one ...


Back they come. How you would have loved it. We in

turn have risen. Pity and terror done with,

programs furled, lips parted, we jostle forward

eager to hail them,


More, to join the troupe - will a friend enroll us

one fine day? Strange, though. For up close their magic

self-destructs. Pale, dripping, with downcast eyes they’ve

seen where it led you.


Grand Street (Spring 1987), 12-13; Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 2002), 581.