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.